The Los Angeles Lakers front office has officially begun their search for the team's next head coach. After parting ways with former head coach Byron Scott on Sunday night, the team has started compiling a 'long list' of candidates that reportedly includes names like Jeff Van Gundy, Ettore Messina, Kevin Ollie, and Luke Walton.
The last name on that list may prove to be significant. Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report wrote about the aftermath of Scott's firing, and he reports that while Lakers vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss "wants to explore options" as the Lakers conduct a coaching search that Mitch Kupchak says the team doesn't want to "drag out," Buss is also "partial to Walton-- and is among the countless folks the amiable Walton has made feel comfortable over the years and closer to him than he really is."
Buss is not alone in being partial to Walton. Many are enamored with the Warriors assistant who stepped in as interim head coach while Steve Kerr recovered from surgical complications and led the defending champions to a 40-4 start. According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, there are even those around the league who believe that Walton taking over the Lakers following Golden State's playoff run is a done deal (transcription of Broussard's comments on Thompson and Trudell via Lakers Outsiders):
"I talked to several people last night who said, ‘[Los Angeles] must know they can get Luke Walton. They must have something in place with Luke Walton.'"
While Broussard's reports should usually be taken with a grain of salt, there is enough smoke here to believe there might be fire. Walton is certainly one of the top candidates available following his success with the Warriors and many other reasons that Ding writes in his report.
Whether the Lakers agree remains to be seen, but now that the coaching search the team hopes to have wrapped up before the beginning of free agency is underway, so expect to hear a lot more reports similar to this one as the offseason continues.
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