Mere hours after the Los Angeles Lakers and Luke Walton mutually agreed to part ways, he was on his way up to Sacramento to accept an offer from the Kings to replace Dave Joerger as their head coach. The Lakers are moving a little more slowly in their search for Walton’s replacement (and for good reason), but the process is certainly moving forward, starting with Tyronn Lue getting an interview on Friday.
But rather than who the Lakers are interviewing, it’s who is at the forefront of that process that feels noteworthy. Rob Pelinka has been put in charge of finding and speaking to candidates, and while no official announcement has been made, the writing is pretty clearly on the wall that he is who Jeanie Buss has trusted with guiding the organization out of the Magic Johnson
debacle fiasco embarrassment screwup era.
Tyronn Lue is meeting with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka Friday in Los Angeles about the team’s head coaching job that became available when Luke Walton was let go, per sources.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) April 16, 2019
We know just about everything there is to know about Lue’s bonafides. He’s won a championship, has LeBron’s respect, won with the Lakers as a player. Basically, he checks all the boxes that the Lakers have traditionally valued.
This comes on the heels of the Lakers also having been granted permission to meet with Monty Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers and Juwan Howard of the Miami Heat this week, a quickness to talk to candidates that would seem to imply that Pelinka may be the top basketball decision maker moving forward.
If the Lakers were indeed looking to replace Magic, they would be canvassing the league in a similar fashion to the process they’ve undergone with Walton’s replacement. But they haven’t. There have been no reports of them having asked permission to meet with any of the top executives who have been linked to the president of basketball operations job.
That obviously doesn’t mean definitively that they won’t try to talk to those guys, but given how the leaky the Lakers have been with everything else, it would be borderline miraculous if they were able to keep that under wraps. And besides, whoever that team president might be would want to sit in on these meetings with head coaching candidates, and eventually hire the coach they see most fit to move forward.
The fact that it seems Pelinka will instead be making these key decisions would seem to imply that he will be running the show in some form, starting with these meetings to replace Walton. He has no experience in hiring a head coach and isn’t really surrounded by anyone who does, but this is the path Jeanie Buss seems to prefer. It comes with the inherent risk of opportunity cost, but hey, at least they have Kurt Rambis around.