With the botched negotiations with Tyronn Lue completely in their rearview mirrors, the Los Angeles Lakers have moved on to the finger-pointing portion of the proceedings. After such an embarrassing episode, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and a group of people not ready to assume said accountability at the center of everything.
Initially, most thought it was Lakers management’s pushing Jason Kidd on Lue that helped him lose interest, which made sense given Kidd’s proclivity for coups and you know, lack of success as a coach. Then, there were whispers that the Lakers tried to force him to hire Kurt Rambis as an assistant.
It turns out, however, this was pretty straightforward, and Lue was insulted by the fiscal commitment the Lakers were(n’t) willing to make, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times — though the team trying to pick who was on his bench didn’t sit all that well with the veteran coach, either:
The sides were unable to agree on contract terms, according to the people, with the Lakers willing to offer Lue only a three-year deal worth nearly $20 million — matching the time remaining on LeBron James’s contract with the team. Lue wanted a longer deal more in line with his status as a championship-winning coach.
Also among the factors leading to the breakdown was the insistence of Lakers management to have final say over the choice of Lue’s assistant coaches, according to the people, who were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
Another angle of the story came via Brad Turner and Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
Talks stalled Wednesday over several issues and the Lakers determined that despite his coaching record and strong relationship with LeBron James, Lue was not a good fit for the organization long-term, the person familiar with the Lakers’ thinking said.
Without getting into whose source comes from where, let’s just ask a simple question here: Between the Lakers and Lue, which side had more leverage in negotiations and thus an easier time pushing away from said talks? It’s probably Lue and fairly easily, right? He just goes back to getting paid very well not to work, whereas the Lakers have to restart their search for a head coach, now without their top two candidates.
This leads me to believe that second block is a fairly obvious attempt at damage control, but at this point, the house is burnt down. This the Lakers proverbially yelling “You can’t fire me, I quit!”
Of course Lue didn’t want the Lakers to have final say over his entire assistant coaching staff. No self-respecting head coach with any success would. For starters, Lue is a championship-winning coach who has a history of putting together coaching staffs already. Next (and maybe more importantly), who the hell is this Lakers front office — currently constituted of exactly no one with any positive NBA executive experience — to tell Lue who to hire for said staff?
Rob Pelinka hasn’t been in the league long enough to fill out an entire NBA bench. Jeanie Buss has outright refused to learn anything about the basketball operations aspect of the Lakers and thus wouldn’t know a great assistant coach from, well, Kurt Rambis. And speaking of the Rambii, their only request seemingly in this interview process is whether Kurt can get himself a job. They can’t be considered objective in their analysis of what’s best for Lue here.
No, Pelinka and Buss overplayed their hands and, as a result, will have to hire a lesser candidate. But hey, look on the bright side, kids! At least there’s a chance whoever they do hire might also add Kurt to their assistant coaching staff!