Details are continuing to come out about why the Los Angeles Lakers failed to hire Tyronn Lue, and very few of said specifics will make anyone feel much better about the proceedings. The Lakers have since moved on with their search (most notably with Jason Kidd, apparently), but that doesn’t necessarily mean chances with Lue are completely out the window.
Last we had heard of Kidd, it was during the impasse between the Los Angeles Lakers and Tyronn Lue, which at the time seemed to have something to do with Lue not wanting Kidd on his coaching staff. We’ve since learned that wasn’t quite the holdup we previously thought, but at this point, all that matters is that the Lakers and Lue are no longer at the negotiating table.
During an appearance on “The Lowe Post” podcast, Dave McMenamin of ESPN did go so far as to offer a little hope on the Lue front:
”I’m not convinced that it’s completely dead. Their could be a Jon Snow back to life scenario... I do think though, that it’s not in a good space right now. At all. And you’re just starting to hear things about perhaps why Ty wasn’t the perfect candidate. Well, listen, he was offered the job, you made a millions and millions of dollars commitment to have him be your head coach. For instance, you hear some things that maybe Ty wasn’t so specific on his scouting reports on the young players in the interview process, and that’s why the Lakers were interested in pairing him with Jason Kidd, because Jason Kidd I guess had a player-development plan for the younger players.”
More on that player development part in a minute, but color me a little skeptical that it would be Lue who showed up to the meeting ill-prepared, especially when the people he had that meeting with were a couple Rambii and Jeanie Buss. His camp apparently felt similarly:
”You talk to people familiar with Ty’s view of these things and it was ‘all I got was positive feedback about how great things went in the interviews, and I didn’t have to go to the next step of the my presentation, which was literally having a three-page scouting report prepared on every single player on the Lakers’ roster last year.’ Ty’s the type of guy who has binders (of this stuff).
“It’s just funny because you hear this kind of posturing, right? Of the information that gets out there, and when you get to that stage, it makes me wonder if it could be repaired. But at the same time, LeBron James, to me, is the most important employee they have in that company, and we still haven’t heard from him, and I feel like if he wanted to make a play publicly for Ty Lue, I think that could change the game.
“Now, he traditionally hasn’t done that. He is someone who kinds of works in the margins... That would be a break from his normal manner, but this isn’t a normal situation. I mean, he has a couple years left in his career... That’s why I think there could be a chance of it being resuscitated, but I could also certainly see a pairing of ‘your next head coach is Jason Kidd alongside Frank Vogel,’ or ‘your next head coach is Frank Vogel alongside Jason Kidd’ or some kind of combination of that.”
Please, LeBron. I know you seem to like Kidd and all that, but that’s very different when a go-to strategy is him spilling water on your way back to the bench. Trust me on this. You don’t want him as your coach.
But to add more fuel to the fire of Kidd’s candidacy, Brian Windhorst of ESPN went into a few more specifics on why the Lakers might’ve been impressed by Kidd’s plan for the young core on “The Hoop Collective”:
“I don’t want to pull back the curtain too much but I’ve spent a considerable amount of time talking to Jason Kidd about the Lakers job. I can’t say that I know exactly what he said to them in his interview, but I have a general idea of what his vision for the team was and I think one of the things that Jason really believed in was developing their young players. Again, I don’t want to violate too much of a confidence here, but when we spoke about it, I really do think he was a big believer in Lonzo Ball. He thinks Lonzo Ball can really be a good player. He wants to help develop him.”
In complete fairness, Kidd has been singled out as an especially natural fit to groom Ball given their shared positions and approaches to the game. With Lue at the helm, perhaps Kidd could have focused solely on developing Ball. But that’s not what we’re heading for. As a head coach, Kidd can’t focus on one player. He’ll have an entire team to run on top of helping Ball whenever he can.
Oh, and we saw what that looked like when he was head coach of a team featuring a highly promising, young player. Maybe Kidd learned from his last stop, but if you go by this from Jared Dudley about Kidd’s approach with Giannis Antetokounmpo, you shouldn’t feel all that confident in him giving young players time to develop on a team trying to win now:
Jared Dudley talking about how he had to convince Jason Kidd to start Giannis over him pic.twitter.com/eIk74t0pKw— GlassHalfFultz (@pickuphoop) May 10, 2019
Doesn’t this all sound way too familiar, by the way? Byron Scott was hired to see Kobe Bryant off into the sunset, and was seen as a possible point guard whisperer for his early work with Kidd, then with Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving, and it was hoped he could do the same with D’Angelo Russell. We saw how that turned out. Luke Walton was a promising young coach and was sold as having the potential have grown alongside an entire young core. Whoops.
We are damned to repeat history so long as we refuse to learn from it. The Lakers, who literally only talk about their history, not learning from any of their recent mistakes is irony bordering on Shakespearean tragedy. Yet here the Lakers are, preparing to make that same mistake all over again — hiring a coach for the wrong reasons, and in the face of plenty of valid concerns.
Having seen how things went with their previous couple coaches, the hope would’ve been that maybe, just maybe, the Lakers would get out of their own way on this one. But they seem focused on shooting one foot after the other rather than putting them in front of each other in attempts to actually and meaningfully move forward.