The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t put a public timetable on their coaching search — and haven’t said much of anything on-record since Magic Johnson stepped down — but logic would seem to dictate that the team will likely have to decide who will be replacing Luke Walton at the helm by the time the NBA Draft Lottery rolls around on May 14 (when preparations for the 2019 NBA Draft will begin in earnest).
To that end, the Lakers are interviewing several candidates for the position, and according to Broderick Turner of The L.A. Times, Tyronn Lue impressed the team with his level of preparation and desire to take the job if it was offered:
During Lue’s interview session at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo on Wednesday, a lasting impression was left on both parties involved in the discussions, according to the people.
Lue, who played for the Lakers and won two NBA titles with them in 2000 and 2001, was sincere about wanting the job, the people said. He showed them offensive sets and defensive scheme during his conversations with the group.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN offered up a few more details about the appearance during an appearance on SportsCenter, and it sounds like Lue even tried to get an accomplished assistant to join him even before he is offered or accepts the job:
“He’s the GM & he’s going to be the leader of Basketball operations going forward & Ty Lue I’m told in his meeting w/ @JeanieBuss really made an emotional connection w/ her in terms of his desire to return to the @Lakers.” @wojespn | @ESPN pic.twitter.com/zyNGwBqHYB— ShowtimeForum (@ShowtimeForum) April 27, 2019
“Another thing when you’re trying to get a job being able to put together a top assistant coaching staff is important. I’m told that Ty Lue inquired with Tom Thibodeau about being his top assistant.”@wojespn | @ESPN pic.twitter.com/PLkx4w7L6c— ShowtimeForum (@ShowtimeForum) April 27, 2019
That certainly would address a criticism the front office had of Walton’s staff for their lack of experience, however, it sounds like Thibodeau ultimately isn’t going to be the name that solves that problem:
“I’m told for Thibs it’s not the direction he wants to go. He still wants to be a head coach in the league but it shows you the kind of lengths guys are gonna go here to try & impress this @Lakers ownership group and get this job.”@wojespn | @ESPN pic.twitter.com/TG7OcbKaAr— ShowtimeForum (@ShowtimeForum) April 27, 2019
There is a lot to unpack here, but it does seem clear that Lue really does want this job, even if there were rumors that some around the NBA were trying to warn him to stay away from it. Lue appealing to his history as a player for the team would also seem to be a smart strategy, given this organization’s predilection for hiring people who are a part of the Lakers’ legacy (now, whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up for debate, but I digress).
If hired, Lue would instantly bring a proven ability to build an offense around LeBron James using solid spacing principles, and it seems he also wants to get a meaningful and experienced staff to join him, even if Thibodeau ultimately won’t be a part of it.
Still, this shows where Lue’s head is at, and that he wouldn’t be afraid to bring in accomplished assistants with powerful and proven voices, something that whoever the Lakers hire will need to do in order for this team to reach its full potential. Whether they ultimately pick Lue or another candidate remains to be seen, but this process shouldn’t last very much longer, and each development like this one will be worth watching over the coming weeks.