The Lakers’ head-coaching search at the moment is like the beginning of a marathon.
Lots of activity, lots of competitors, a long way to the finish line.
The Lakers plan to interview a large number of candidates over the phone before narrowing down the list to more formal in-person interviews, according to a league source familiar with the process. Such possibilities will entail candidates with extensive NBA head-coaching experience to more relatively less expensive and less high profile candidates. Based on that criteria, there are a number of possibilities.
Among the ones with extensive NBA head coaching experience include George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, former Lakers forward Byron Scott, Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis and former Lakers and Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy. There are high-profile college basketball coaches (Kentucky’s John Calipari and Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie). There are some potential wild cards. There is former Lakers guard Derek Fisher, though he currently plays for the Thunder. There is also Ettore Messina, who served as a consultant under former Lakers coach Mike Brown during the 2011-12 season and has had a flurry of success coaching overseas in Europe. Lionel Hollins, who last coached with the Memphis Grizzlies from 2009 to 2013, also is interested in the position, according to a league source. But as of now, the Lakers have not indicated they would interview him.
Even with the flurry of activity, do not expect there to be much clarity soon.
It would be surprising if the Lakers make a hire before the NBA draft lottery on May 20 in New York City, where the Lakers hope to receive a top draft pick. The Lakers would have only 19 days to go through what’s expected to be an exhaustive list of coaching candidates. They would also like to have a sense where they fare in the NBA draft order, their sixth-worst NBA record last season giving them a 6.3 percent chance of receiving the top pick. There is also a sense around the league that the Lakers would like to stay patient in case any openings emerge stemmed from various coaching shuffling through the NBA playoffs.
Still, even with the number of potential candidates, the Lakers are known to keep things tight-lipped surrounding coaching hires. Case in point, both the Lakers’ decision to hire Brown and D’Antoni in their last two searches materialized with little forewarning.