It wouldn’t be a rumors roundup without a Russell Westbrook update, but this one isn’t a “will they, won’t they” trade rumor update but advice from former Lakers player and executive Magic Johnson. Also, even with the team reportedly naming finalists in their search for a head coach, some still think the Lakers could still go for one very big name on the board.
Here’s everything from today’s headlines and rumors.
Magic encourages Lakers to run it back with Russ
The conversation surrounding the Lakers and Russell Westbrook has been centered largely on how the Lakers would move him off the roster this offseason and very little consideration into whether they should try to make it work again.
Magic Johnson, though, made the case for the team to run it back with Russ in his interview with David Aldridge of The Athletic.
Well, it only can work, if you’ve got the coach — the right coach. To me, it still comes down to, who’s the coach? And, then, also, he’s on a one-year, $47 million (contract). Even if you offer him (in a trade), what are you, realistically, going to get back? I told them this too — you’re going to get some contracts you probably don’t want, and they’re going to go (chronologically) past his contract. You’ve really got to think about that. Are those players you’re going to get back, are they going to really help you? I said, talk to him. Whatever happened (this season), how can you make it better with Russell? How can you make it more comfortable? So they’ve got to figure all these things out. Take him out, take him to dinner or sit him down. How can this thing be better? ‘Cause if he’s going to be there, it’s got to be better. I guess whoever they name, that’s the first thing they’re going to have to do. And you can’t sit down once. You’re going to have to sit down for a week or two to try to figure that thing out.
On paper, Magic’s logic makes sense. But things don’t play out on paper and Russ hasn’t exactly shown a history of practicing what he preaches.
Prior to last season, Westbrook said all the right things about sacrificing and doing what it took to win and then proceeded not to do any of that during the season. He didn’t practice anything he preached, so why would a sit-down discussion with lots of promises this time around be any different?
Doc Rivers still a possibility?
The Lakers reportedly moved forward in their interview process over the weekend by narrowing their candidates down to Darvin Ham, Terry Stotts and Kenny Atkinson. The next stage of the interviews will be with Jeanie Buss as the team looks to circle in on their next head coach with Ham considered the favorite.
However, those around the league don’t actually think the team is down to just three candidates, as detailed by longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein in his latest newsletter.
Suspicions persist in league coaching circles that the Lakers have not completely abandoned hope that Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers becomes unexpectedly available — despite the recent insistence from Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey that Rivers will be back in Philly next season.
It’s probably an important distinction to make that this isn’t a Lakers source, which does matter. Internally, there is no indication that they’re wavering at all based on the reports. Given how much of a mess the Lakers have been, it’s fair for other teams to wonder if the Lakers actually are putting together an organized search for a coach with qualified candidates, but that appears to be the case.
However, don’t tell Kevin Garnett, who took to his Instagram to give his two cents (that no one asked for) on the search.
Kevin Garnett weighs in on the Lakers coaching search pic.twitter.com/LyiM9cx64z— pickuphoop (@pickuphoop) May 23, 2022
If hiring Doc Rivers comes with the PR team and spin that the 2008 Celtics have had after winning one (1) title, then that suddenly becomes a more intriguing scenario. Not intriguing enough to actually consider it, but more intriguing, still.
Qualities of the next head coach
ALong with talking about Russ in his interview with Aldridge, Magic Johnson — who is still advising Jeanie Buss and the Lakers front office — talked about the qualities he desires in the next head coach.
I think that, to me, they’re showing you, right now. Probably besides Erik Spoelstra, all the other three that’s in the final four are ex-players. So, I think that says a lot about these young ex-players who command respect right away, who have done it before. I’m not saying it has to be an ex-player, but I’m saying you have to look at what’s going on. Most of the guys who are in the playoffs. But the most important thing to me is accountability. They must hold everybody, one through 15, accountable. And we got away from accountability. Guys never talked about that this season. It was always somebody else’s fault. I hated that. Never, ‘Hey, I played bad. Hey, It’s on me.’ So whether it’s an ex-player or not, but the trend is ex-players. But if not, I want a coach that’s going to hold everybody accountable. And, so, that’s what I would like to see.
The general sentiment is pretty much exactly what general manager Rob Pelinka said in his exit interview at the end of the season, so that part checks out. However, as much as accountability may have been a problem — which I think is a bit overstated here my Magic — the problems with the season were not one singular issue but a large variety of them and it’s important the team and front office recognizes that through a bit of self-reflection and self-analyzing, too.