As the Los Angeles Lakers continue their coaching search, the names getting most of the attention have been Tyronn Lue and Monty Williams, who are both seen as more likely to get the job than the third real candidate, Juwan Howard.
Still, it seems Howard shouldn’t be counted out, as according to Broderick Turner of The L.A. Times, Howard “impressed” the Lakers during his first interview last Thursday:
Miami assistant coach Juwan Howard also impressed the Lakers during his interview Tuesday at the practice facility in El Segundo, according to people with knowledge of the talks.
That noted, it’s unclear if this is enough to vault Howard past Williams — who has been pegged as the frontrunner for the job since the beginning — or Lue, who apparently made quite the impression on the Lakers’ brass himself.
But let’s discuss Howard’s candidacy. He, like Lue, has the advantage of having coached and played with LeBron James before, which are no small things, although they’re different than having success with him as a head coach (something only Lue has done).
Still, Howard has been the Miami Heat’s defensive coordinator, and the Heat have had a top-10 defense for the last four seasons. That’s not all a credit to Howard — Erik Spoelstra and his staff have long had success on that end — but still, Howard deserves a share of the accolades for such an achievement. He also has a background in player development, which would certainly help with the Lakers’ young core (if any of them are still around next season).
Actually hiring Howard would certainly be a shocker, but it’s at least worth discussing if he might be the second-best option behind Lue. This is mostly because he’s at least a wild card who might have higher upside than Williams, a renowned communicator who it’s not clear has the strongest schematic chops, which makes him fairly similar to the coach the Lakers just moved on from on some basic level. Maybe having buy-in from LeBron — something Williams would likely get after their work together on Team USA — would make the difference, but Howard could also plausibly result in that same outcome.
It remains to be seen which direction the Lakers ultimately go, but it at least still seems within the realm of possibility that Rob Pelinka could tap his old college teammate in Howard to help lead the Lakers into their next era. At the bare minimum — and even if he’s a long shot — it seems Howard’s candidacy for the job is still alive and kicking, and it will be fascinating to see if he gets a second interview this week.