The search for the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers has seemingly ended. After Monty Williams agreed to sign with the Phoenix Suns on Friday, all signs point to Tyronn Lue replacing Luke Walton as the team’s head coach.
Lue will be reuniting with LeBron James, who he coached to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances and an NBA championship during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. When Lue was let go by the Cavs six games into the regular season, James sent his well wishes from Los Angeles with a little nugget at the end:
T Lue thanks for the memories and more importantly our partnership bringing a to that deserved city/fan base. U know how to find me— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 28, 2018
Since then, it’s seemed inevitable that Lue would reunite with James and that sense of inevitability created uneasiness in the front office during their coaching search. According to Bill Oram of The Athletic, some members of the team’s management were worried that hiring Lue would make it seem like the Lakers were James’ team:
The Lakers may well determine that Lue’s history with (an aging) James is too overwhelming a factor to ignore, and make the former backup on two Lakers’ championship teams the franchise’s 27th head coach. However, there is a sensitivity within Lakers walls to the outside narrative that James and his representatives are calling the shots, and hiring Lue would do nothing to diminish those cries. The Lakers’ relationship with James is still new and evolving, and the organization is still learning how to cater to James without ceding power to him. Which category would hiring Lue fall into?
Luckily, it sounds like they got over their own insecurities rather quickly, according to Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:
There were even some in the Lakers organization who worried about the perception that if they hired Lue, James had too much power within the organization. Ultimately, the Lakers decided not to worry about such perceptions.
Hiring Lue and essentially building the Cava-Lakers with James in the Western Conference probably isn’t how the front office envisioned the second year of the LeBron James era in Los Angeles, but it gives them their best shot at contending for a title within the next two years, which is ultimately why they signed James.
James is also more likely to be patient with Lue during the low points in the season because of the relationship they have. The same couldn’t be said of James and Walton.
While public opinion could change over the course of the 82-game season, hiring Lue seems like a no-brainer for the Lakers right now.