With it appearing more likely by the day that the Los Angeles Lakers are sticking with general manager Rob Pelinka as their top basketball decision maker, the final shoe left to drop in the team’s offseason — at least before the draft and free agency — appears to be whether they’ll hire Monty Williams or Tyronn Lue as their next head coach.
Both men have their merits — Williams’ are detailed here, and Lue’s here — but it sounds like the decision between them has a chance to be made a lot easier for the Lakers, because according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, Williams and the Phoenix Suns may be drawing closer to a union:
League sources say that the Suns' job will be Monty Williams' job if he wants it ... but Williams, as a coach in demand, has the rare ability to be choosy about where he wants to coach next— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) May 2, 2019
But those of you on #TeamWilliams over #TeamLue shouldn’t panic just yet, because according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, it seems the Lakers aren’t out of the hunt:
Sources: Phoenix owner Robert Sarver met with Sixers assistant Monty Williams in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. Williams remains Suns top target to hire as head coach, but no offer has been yet extended. Williams remains in talks for Lakers job, vying with Ty Lue.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 2, 2019
A lot of people have been asking what’s taking so long with this coaching search, and this is a good example of why the process has been so gradual. Williams is currently serving as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, and is most likely heavily occupied with their playoff run, and also probably doesn’t want to choose a job until after the Sixers’ run is over due to persistent speculation that head coach Brett Brown could be let go if the team disappoints. While he likely isn’t sitting around rooting for Brown to be fired, Williams has to know it’s a possibility, and that as things stand right now that the Sixers job is probably more attractive than the Lakers’ or Suns’ respective openings.
Whatever happens in Philadelphia may be the first domino to fall here, which would then force Williams to survey his options and decide to stay in Philadelphia (either as a head coach or assistant) or choose between the Lakers and Suns.
We’ll see what happens here, but if the Lakers lose out on Williams it ultimately wouldn’t be the end of the world. They may not want the perception that James is running the show — a perception that James and his people are pushing back on but that hiring Lue would fuel — but while we can’t know what Williams is saying in his interviews that makes him so impressive, we have seen evidence that Lue can get just about the most out of of James possible, and he might be the best hire anyway. And if the Suns inadvertently force the Lakers into hiring a better coaching candidate, that only makes all this all the more funny.
More will become clear over the next few days, but for now it would seem to soon to assume that the Lakers are out of the race for Williams. Whether or not that’s a good thing or not is likely in the eye of the beholder.
If you want more talk on the Lakers coaching search, listen to the latest episode of the Silver Screen and Roll podcast below, and subscribe to the feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.