Despite not having an official president of basketball operations in place, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to go forth with their head coaching search, led by general manager Rob Pelinka, after the team announced they were “mutually agreeing” to part ways with Luke Walton on Friday.
Almost immediately after news broke that Walton was leaving the team, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the Lakers already had two replacements in mind: former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue and Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams.
Since then, that list has grown to include Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:
Another name that has surfaced to replace Walton, who agreed with the Lakers to mutually part ways on Friday, is Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard, these people said.
Howard’s lack of experience as a head coach will work against him, according to these people.
Additionally, a few high-profile names have already been crossed off of the list, despite both being linked to the Lakers in the past:
Over the last few weeks when Walton’s job status was uncertain, former coaches Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd were mentioned as candidates.
Jackson, an NBA analyst for ESPN and ABC, is not expected to be on the list of people the Lakers interview, according to people.
Kidd, an NBA Hall of Fame point guard, won’t be on the list either, according to people, who said Lakers owner Jeanie Buss was not happy to see the former Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks coach recently on TV shows talking about the Lakers job.
It should come as no surprise that the Lakers are targeting experienced head coaches considering they can’t afford to groom a young head coach with an aging LeBron James on the roster. If they did, Walton might still have a job in Los Angeles.
However, “experienced” isn’t always conducive to being good, and that’s especially true in the case of Williams. Williams is widely regarded as one of the best vocal leaders the league has to offer, but his ability to encourage players hasn’t always translated on the court.
In his five years as head coach of the New Orleans Hornets (later rebranded to the Pelicans), Williams led his team to the playoffs just once and they lost in the first round. Granted, the teams he coached weren’t especially talented, but their lack of success wasn’t in spite of him.
If the Lakers want an experienced head coach, then so be it, but they shouldn’t mistake experienced with proven. So far, Lue is the only name the Lakers have been linked to that checks both boxes. Unless more names pop up within the coming days, it may stay that way.