Kurt Rambis’s influence within the front office has increased significantly since Magic Johnson resigned, as the senior basketball adviser has been involved in nearly the entirety of the head coach hiring process.
However, it appears that one aspect of Rambis’s reach was exaggerated.
Last week, Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reported that the Lakers asked Tyronn Lue to include Rambis as an assistant coach if he was hired, and Lue refused. However, Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of The L.A. Times clarified on Saturday that though the Lakers had requests for the coaching staff, Rambis was not one of them:
The Lakers asked Lue to hire Kidd as part of his staff and also suggested Vogel. While they mentioned several names to Lue, they never asked him to put Kurt Rambis on the staff, as was rumored. Lue was interested in bringing Vogel on board, but disagreements over the staff remained.
Even if they didn’t bring up Rambis specifically, the idea that the Lakers would impose assistants, especially someone like Kidd — who has a history of trying to usurp power — on an experienced head coach with an NBA championship on his resume is laughable. It goes against the hiring practices throughout the league, and it shows a level of disrespect for Lue’s ability that Lue seemed to feel was further reflected in his contract offer.
It should also be noted that one of the issues the team had with Luke Walton before both sides parted ways was over adding Rambis to Walton’s coaching staff, so even if they didn’t do it to Lue, it’s not like they haven’t tried to force him on people before.
As of now, it is unknown whether there will be pressure for new head coach Frank Vogel to have Rambis as an assistant. Vogel has already agreed to hire Jason Kidd to work under him, though, so he may be more amenable to the Lakers’ suggestions. Every possible permutation for this coaching crew is still on the table, particularly after the highly unusual step of the Lakers leaking their head coach and an assistant at the same time.
Perhaps Rambis is no longer in play for a coaching job because of his increased role in the front office. The so-called “shadow president” has owner Jeanie Buss’s ear in personnel matters, and a job as an assistant coach would seemingly be a demotion from that position. Regardless of what his title is though, Rambis’ power within the organization is becoming indisputable. With that knowledge, what his official title is seems essentially insignificant.