While the Los Angeles Lakers deliberate over whether or not to fire head coach Byron Scott following the two worst seasons in the franchise's history, they may have missed out on (arguably) the best available candidate.
Tom Thibodeau agreed to become the next head coach and president of basketball operations on Wednesday, and while it was initially reported that he had crossed the Lakers off of his list of potential employers because of the lack of an available front office position, Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical reports that "Thibodeau always had his eyes on the [the Lakers head coaching job], but the Lakers hesitated and missed the chance to recruit him."
Whether or not Thibodeau would have taken the Lakers job without gaining some say over front office moves will always remain an intriguing hypothetical, but that is another area where he reportedly believes he could have helped.
It's no secret that the Lakers have had issues recruiting free agents the last few seasons, and Wojnarowski says Thibodeau thought he could help them bring in their next superstar:
"Tom Thibodeau always believed he could lure free agents to the Los Angeles Lakers, that the proper structure and vision still makes that franchise the ultimate superstar destination... Thibodeau uses his USA Basketball coaching job to build relationships with the best players in the world, potential free agents including Kevin Durant and James Harden, Russell Westbrook and, yes, LeBron James, too."
There is obviously a lot to unpack here. For one, it's surprising based on previous reports that Thibodeau really found the Lakers job so intriguing. Despite fans clamoring for him, he had not been linked to the team by anything more than theoretical coaching wishlists prior to today.
Additionally, while the story of Thibodeau being the answer to the Lakers' recruiting problems is a tidy one, it's another question we'll never know the answer to. Maybe he could have recruited those free agents, but there is no reason anyone can definitively state it as a fact.
All that aside, Wojnarowski's report serves as the latest sign that the Lakers need to stop dithering over Scott, make a decision, and move forward one way or the other. If they are going to keep him, reports like this one excoriating them for missing out on a candidate will end. If they are going to move on, then they need to begin the interview process before most of the top candidates are gone.
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