Luke Walton is still the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. That will probably change after the next three games, obviously, but bookmakers are now on *checks notes* frontrunner No. 13 for Walton’s position.
Juwan Howard was a surprise betting favorite recently to replace Walton as the Lakers head coach next season, following in Tyronn Lue, Mark Jackson and Jason Kidd’s footsteps. Now, only a few days later, Marc Stein of the New York Times apparently was given some different information:
Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard would indeed be a candidate for the Lakers' head coaching job, I'm told, if it opens as so many around the league have expected for weeks. Yet I'm also told he should not be billed as the frontrunner ... as some bookmakers have this week— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 5, 2019
On its face, Howard made a ton of sense and actually pointed to some fairly creative thinking previously considered, well, unthinkable by this Lakers organization. Though as per usual, there are some fairly obvious ties when you think about it a little more.
Howard was a teammate of Rob Pelinka’s at Michigan, his time in Miami coincided with LeBron James’, and, due to being a Michigan guy, Magic Johnson might actually know who he is. All that good stuff.
But really, he is an interesting candidate. I like that he has been groomed as an assistant in Miami for as long as he’s been there under a very good coach in Erik Spoelstra, and in a very successful organization under Pat Riley. He’s apparently tasked with managing Miami’s defense, which has been consistent over the years, though if or when he comes, it would be nice to see him given an assistant head coach with offensive scheming chops.
Howard would also be interesting as an associate head coach candidate depending on the direction the Lakers do finally go in with their hire. Though in that case, it’s unknown how much Miami values him, or what opportunities and compensation he might be leaving there, so it’s tricky to figure out if he’d actually see that as a promotion.
These things move quickly, and always remember on these kinds of things that Vegas does whatever it can to garner the most bets. Whoever the next frontrunner they send out there will be with that as the goal, not actually predicting who will eventually get the job.