Since parting ways with Luke Walton on Friday, general manager Rob Pelinka has begun the search for the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in earnest, and has now been given permission to speak with Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard (according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN):
The Lakers have received permission to speak to Juwan Howard, plan interview him next week— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) April 14, 2019
Howard is the Heat’s defensive coordinator, and has worked in player development for the team following his long NBA career. He also coached and played with LeBron James in Miami and is a former teammate of Rob Pelinka from college. He is one of three targets that the Lakers’ search is expected to focus on, along with former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue and Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams.
In addition to their meeting with Howard, the Lakers are expected to meet with Lue next week, but it sounds like Williams may actually already be the frontrunner for the job, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Lakers management plans to travel East to meet with Sixers assistant Monty Williams between Games 2 and 3 of playoff series with Brooklyn, league sources tell ESPN. Williams has emerged as a top candidate for Lakers coaching job.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 14, 2019
Williams would make sense as a target for the Lakers, given his ties to LeBron James — who he has coached with Team USA — and potential trade target Anthony Davis, who he coached for five years with New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans. Williams is well-regarded around the league as a strong communicator, which may be a necessary skill in a Lakers locker room that dealt with its fair share of drama over the last year.
It remains to be seen which direction the Lakers will eventually take with their head coaching search, but the with the 2019 NBA Draft rapidly approaching, and free agency coming after that, the Lakers are under a bit of time pressure to wrap up their search soon.
With all of these interviews coming this week, and Howard already being a top candidate, it seems the Lakers may have a new head coach in the next two weeks.