Before Luke Walton and the Los Angeles Lakers parted ways, there were some reported concerns from on high about the coaching staff he put together. Given how uninspiring that group was, those reports made sense.
Well, they made sense until Wednesday night, when we found out — via Bill Oram of The Athletic — who exactly it was that Lakers management wanted to add to Walton’s bench:
They tried to foist Kidd on Lue as an assistant coach, rather than give him the latitude to assemble a staff of his choosing. That’s consistent with the end of Walton’s tenure when, among the issues that led to a breakdown between the sides, the front office preferred that Kurt Rambis be hired as an assistant coach.
At some point, the Lakers will have to notice some of the outright laughter at Rambis’ expense from basically anywhere in the league other than Linda’s office. It’s unlikely, given how insulated the Lakers have made themselves, but hey, we can always hope. Until then, it would seem that Kurt has assembled more power than ever:
Remember, though, that the last time we heard from Kurt before this year, he had to delete his Twitter account because he was liking butt tweets (Rambis and the New York Knicks claimed he was hacked, evidently by someone who takes over famous accounts and just likes tweets with them, rather than, you know, tweeting). Since then, he’s somehow risen to the top of one of the most prestigious professional sports teams in the world — though if they continue this way, that title won’t stick around much longer.
Beyond his social media preferences, he’s best known for starting Ryan Hollins over Kevin Love and playing Kristaps Porzingis at small forward. If Rambis was to be involved in a coaching search anywhere else in the NBA, it would be as a practical joke and the team in question would do the opposite of whatever he advises.
This is quite literally the only situation across the entire league that he would find a job, let alone rise through the ranks. But look at the current front office, he’s not alone in that regard. Rob Pelinka got his current gig by representing Kobe Bryant and then showing up to work every day while Magic Johnson would take his lengthy absences. Jeanie Buss inherited the Lakers.
When children are left alone, the last thing they want is anyone who might implement a set of rules. Adults are the worst, after all. They’ll tell you not to stay up past your bedtime. They’ll prohibit you from eating cake before dinner. Jumping on the bed? Not going to happen when a parent is around.
Right now, the Lakers are being run by a bunch of children who don’t have to employ any adults. Buss has no reason to hire anyone who might tell her what to do when she can just as easily employ her best friend and her best friend’s husband. Why bring in an elite NBA executive who might go so far as to challenge the way the Lakers have operated when you can promote the agent who benefitted from that modus operandi to the tune of $48 million for his post-achilles tear client?
So long as those are the only people Buss surrounds herself with, the chances of the Lakers operating with any intelligence whatsoever are about as high as Kurt taking over for Coach K at Duke.
Of course Buss thinks Kurt belongs on whatever bench the Lakers roll into with next season. The advice she’s taking is coming from his wife and a former agent who knows the best way to remain employed is to not rock the boat. Who in that inner circle is either willing or capable to question this as a decent idea?
In Walton’s case, he decided — at least in part — that it was smarter for him to head up to Sacramento than to remain in Los Angeles with Rambis on his coaching staff. Chances are, anyone who is willing to welcome Rambis onto their staff is more interested in the gig than doing the job right. But as things currently stand, it appears getting along with those making these calls is more important than any other actual qualification.