One name that is not that on the new list, however, is Tom Thibodeau. In a radio appearance, he said he was “open” to that changing:
“I have not heard from them, but I’m open to any and all opportunities.”— Golic and Wingo (@GolicAndWingo) May 10, 2019
- Tom Thibodeau on if he heard from the Lakers at all. pic.twitter.com/N2Fn5Yc89s
On the surface, this is a bit surprising. Thibodeau fits the mold of Mike Woodson, Lionel Hollins, J.B. Bickerstaff, and Frank Vogel as recently-fired head coaches who didn’t quite impress at their last stop. He was previously linked to the Los Angeles head coaching job in 2016 before the Lakers hired Luke Walton, partly because he believed in the team’s potential as a superstar destination. However, Thibodeau took the Minnesota job before Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss conducted their coaching search.
Like Vogel, Thibodeau was also mentioned as a potential candidate for the Lakers’ lead assistant job this year, including by Lue during his interview process. People around LeBron James also indicated that the superstar would be interested in having Thibodeau on the Lakers staff. Now that Lue is off the table, and the front office is trying to make clear that James’ preferences are not dictating this process, it is somewhat understandable that Thibodeau is not yet on their wish list.
Another reason the Lakers may not have reached out to Thibodeau is because he is probably out of their price range. The team reportedly only offered Lue a 3-year, $18 million deal, which sounds like it came after an initial lower offer. Thibodeau, meanwhile, is coming off a five-year deal reportedly worth $40 million to be the Timberwolves’ head coach and president of basketball operations. The Lakers would be well within their rights to offer less considering Thibodeau would only be occupying half as many roles, but considering how much money Minnesota still owes him to not work, it would probably take a hefty contract to woo him. If the Lakers’ negotiations with Lue are any indication, they may not be interested in offering such a deal.
Thibodeau probably wouldn’t be a good coach, both because of his inability to produce a modern offense or a competent defense with the Wolves, and also because he tends to wear his players out. That would be a particularly bad fit with an aging James and a brittle young core in Los Angeles.
While the Lakers’ head coaching drama persists, at minimum keeping Thibodeau out of the search is one sane decision. At least until when and if he speaks his candidacy into existence, that is.