The Los Angeles Lakers are hiring Frank Vogel as their next head coach, and Jason Kidd will join his staff as an assistant, but that wasn’t the team’s original plan.
And no, I’m not just talking about their well-chronicled pursuits of Tyronn Lue and Monty Williams. It sounds like the Lakers originally didn’t plan to hire Kidd in any capacity when they interviewed him, as according to Tania Ganguli of The L.A. Times, he initially only got a look as a favor:
Kidd, who had head coaching stints with Brooklyn and Milwaukee, interviewed for the Lakers’ job in April. While it was considered a favor, according to people with knowledge of the situation, he impressed the Lakers’ front office enough that they wanted him on the staff of whomever they hired.
Ganguli doesn’t specify who the sit-down was a favor to, but it’s easy enough to get that it was Kidd’s agency, Excel Sports Management, who also conveniently happen to represent Lakers forward Brandon Ingram and soon-to-be free agent Kemba Walker. In fact, that’s exactly what our own Christian Rivas did guess at, back when Kidd’s interview was first reported.
But evidently Kidd took advantage of his opportunity and blew the Lakers away, so much so that they initially tried to get Tyronn Lue to hire him as an assistant coach. When Lue balked at that idea, both sides moved on, and it would seem Vogel was more open to the Lakers’ new plans.
So why do the Lakers like Kidd? Well, we know that they were impressed with what they heard of his player development plan for Lonzo Ball, as well as that he has a strong, pre-existing relationship with LeBron James. It seems safe to assume those were the main qualities he sold in the interview that the team liked enough to shoehorn him into their plans despite Kidd not initially being there.
As for the Lakers going back on their initial inclination to not hire Kidd, that could be seen in at least two different ways. On one hand, it could be evidence that the team isn’t as closed-minded as some seem to think, and are willing to change their minds when they evaluate what they see as a better pathway based on new information. The other possible read is that the Lakers don’t trust their collective gut, and are prone to being swayed by a strong personality like Kidd.
We probably can’t know which it is for sure until the results of Kidd’s tenure bare fruit, so Lakers fans are just going to have to hope that it’s the former, and that the organization doesn’t regret changing their minds about their new assistant coach, and find Vogel looking like this in a few months:
Given Kidd’s previous predilection for coups, that’s not a guarantee. But we’ll see how good he and the Lakers are at playing the game over the next few seasons.
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