The frontrunner to become the Los Angeles Lakers' next head coach appears to be Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton, with San Antonio Spurs' assistant Ettore Messina a close second. The Lakers' already had their first interview with Walton, a meeting that reportedly "went well," and the team is expected to meet with Messina at some point in the near future.
Messina and Walton aren't the only names the Lakers have been reported to be considering. The team is also planning to interview former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt, and another name that had been getting some buzz was University of Connecticut men's basketball head coach Kevin Ollie.
Multiple outlets reported Ollie was "interested" in the job earlier this week, but Adam Zagoria of SNY reported that Ollie would only sign on if given some level of input in player personnel decisions. It seemed unlikely the Lakers would be willing to grant a first-time NBA head coach that level of power, and judging by Huskies recruit Christian Vital's comments to Scout.com, it is now a moot point anyway because Ollie plans to stay at UConn. (h/t Lakers Outsiders):
"Basically [Kevin Ollie], he's texted me before 9:00 every day this week," Vital said. "Just letting me know about he Lakers situation and that he loves me and he's staying at UConn. That really means something to me, to have that kind of relationship with the head coach, knowing he has a million things to do."
Coach's misleading recruits wouldn't be unheard of, but it would be pretty shocking for Ollie (by all accounts one of the nicest guys in and around basketball) to leave UConn now.
With college coaches having far more job security than their NBA counterparts and nearly as high of salaries, it's no surprise that Ollie would want the additional security afforded by being able to build his own roster. It's also no surprise that an already crowded Lakers front office would be unwilling to give it to him.
If this is the end of Ollie's candidacy, it's not a huge shock, and the Lakers are still left with plenty of promising options.
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