The Los Angeles Lakers are heading down the final stretch of their search for their next head coach, but one name that won’t be an option as they make their ultimate choice is Michigan men’s basketball head coach Juwan Howard.
Howard, a former college teammate of Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka who both played with and coached LeBron James while with the Miami Heat, long seemed like a natural name for the team to consider as they looked for their next leader on the sidelines.
However, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Howard has officially taken himself out of the running.
Howard played at Michigan with Lakers GM Rob Pelinka and with LeBron James in Miami. The Celtics had interest in Howard a year ago before eventually hiring Ime Udoka.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 22, 2022
It’s been clear that Pelinka has been a fan of his former teammate for a while, as Howard was one of the first candidates connected to the Lakers after Frank Vogel was fired, at one point was the betting favorite to land the job during the 2019 search, and reportedly “impressed” the team during that cycle of coaching interviews.
Wojnarowski’s full report on ESPN later on Sunday revealed just how serious the Lakers would have been if Howard reciprocated the interest.
The Lakers never made a formal offer to Howard, sources said, but it’s clear that if he had expressed an interest in the job his candidacy would’ve moved quickly to that stage. While Howard has a playing history with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and star LeBron James, he has consistently maintained he plans to remain in Ann Arbor, where his sons Jace and Jett will be a junior and freshman, respectively, on his team.
Still, this development has been widely expected for a while, as The Los Angeles Times reported in April that Howard’s “intention is to continue coaching Michigan, where two of his sons play.”
Even so, it’s good to confirm that the Lakers are casting a wide net here, and to know that at least one option is officially off the table as the team gets closer to picking their next head coach.
While uncommon for a college coach to jump to the NBA ranks, Howard’s entire coaching career has been a bit uncommon. He took over at Michigan a bit unexpectedly after spending 2013-2019 on the sidelines as an assistant with the Miami Heat.
His success at Michigan since taking over — winning national coach of the year in 2021 and making the Sweet 16 this year — plus the respect he would have commanded from LeBron James, Anthony Davis and (potentially) Russell Westbrook would have made Howard a very intriguing and very strong candidate.
For now, Howard coaching the Lakers will simply be a what-if that’ll have to be filed away until a potential future date when the timing is right for both sides.
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