Since Jeanie Buss took over the Lakers as team governor, the organization has taken its time with two of its three coaching searches. They waited four months (and three job interviews) before hiring Byron Scott after the dismissal of Mike D’Antoni, and while they only took five days between firing Scott and hiring Luke Walton, that was in part because Walton was heavily in demand for several open jobs and they wanted to make sure they locked in the former Lakers role player.
When they let Walton go, however, they took nearly a month before they agreed to terms with Frank Vogel, which came about three days after their negotiations with Tyronn Lue went up in flames. The point is, this group has — more often than not — taken its time to decide on head coaches, and so perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that it has taken nearly a month from the team letting Frank Vogel go to even request to interview their first candidate publicly, Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham.
In the aftermath of Vogel’s firing, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the team’s coaching search would be “lengthy and expansive,” and after news leaked of the team trying to speak to Ham, he elaborated on how their process might differ from some teams’ during a television appearance on the network:
“They’re doing this search a little differently than other teams might. Typically teams will ask for permission on maybe up to a dozen candidates, a large number, start interviewing them one after another do, sometimes two or three in a day on Zoom (and then) bring them in in person.
“The Lakers, what I’m told they’re going to do is essentially call for permission on a couple guys at a time, talk to those coaches, think about it, and then move on to a next group of two, perhaps three... Darvin Ham (is) well-regarded around the league, he’s certainly somebody the Lakers are going to take a long look at, and he’ll be part of this process.”
And even beyond taking their time with a few candidates to give them careful consideration, there are other potential factors in why the team is approaching their search this way.
For one thing, “taking it slow” allows the Lakers to wait out known target Quin Snyder’s decision on his future with the Utah Jazz. They can check out whether or not Klutch client Nick Nurse wants to agitate his way for a trade out of Toronto after the Raptors were eliminated. They can even wait to see if certified Lakers hater, potential coaching search target and current Sixers head coach Doc Rivers can do what he does best and get eliminated from the playoffs in the second round.
Hell, it even gives Ham — whose Bucks are playing in the second round — more time to take his interview after his team is potentially eliminated by the Boston Celtics rather than rushing him.
The other reason the team can take it slow is that, for as many rumors as there are about coaches not wanting this job, the only other two openings might be even less appealing: The Sacramento Kings are a nearly two-decades-long dumpster fire of sadness with an owner so meddling that he makes Lakers shadow executive Kurt Rambis look disengaged, and there was buzz even before the Charlotte Hornets somewhat unexpectedly fired James Borrego that general manager Mitch Kupchak may not be with the franchise much longer.
For as long as those are candidates’ only other options... let’s just say the Lakers may not be in danger of losing the best coaches for the job.
So the team can slow play this with their non-traditional process and wait and see if the big names they clearly are jonesing for become available, at least for now. If the increasingly banged-up Sixers do indeed fire Rivers if/when they lose to the Miami Heat, that will potentially become an appealing opening they could lose real candidates to, but until then, the Lakers can probably afford to wait this out.
That may not be any fun for those of us who want to know who the next coach of this team will be, but it seems like they’re intent on taking this slow, casting a wide net, and waiting to see the full landscape. And honestly, traditional or not, it’s hard to fault the front office for that, process-wise. So we wait.