Below are interviews with ESPN analyst Avery Johnson and NBA TV Stu Jackson on what the Lakers need in their next head coach:
On what the Lakers should look for in their next coach
Johnson: The head coach that is hired in L.A., it has to be somebody that is a consensus in terms of this is the guy that we want. When I say, we, I mean the Lakers family. The Buss family, Mitch Kupchak, Kobe Bryant and the players and the fans. I think it has to be consensus in terms of there’s no second guessing and shouldn’t be any bad publicity or negative reaction in terms of the next head coach hired by the Lakers. It has to be a situation where everybody feels good about it. That’s something that can be sold to the fans. More than anything, that’s something the players that will be on the team next year will easily buy into.
Jackson: Given where the Lakers are currently, what they’re going to look for in a coach will be somewhat determined by where they plan to go from a personnel standpoint. They potentially have some cap space to add another big piece or two. After figuring out their personnel, they have to make a determination of what they want their team to look like from a personality standpoint and a skill standpoint and complementary standpoint in respects to Kobe Bryant and what after they make that determination skill wise, what’s that system going to look like?
What candidates come to mind?
Johnson: Steve Kerr and I spent a lot of time in San Antonio with guys who either became coaches or executives like Danny Ferry and Vinny Del Negro. I know what a great basketball mind Steve Kerr has. If there is anybody from having NBA head coaching experience, I think he can do it. He has strong instincts. He really sees the game in a way, especially offensively that the game needs to be played with freedom and movement and organization and creativity. Steve is an engaging guy with a Seinfeld sense of humor. That helps for a long 82 game season.”
Jackson: I can’t reemphasize the point enough that who their coach is going to be will be based on Mitch Kupchak’s and the organization’s view of how they’re going to compose their team going forward from a skills standpoint, personality standpoint and a mindset given that they still have Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant.
When you understand what your team is potentially going to look like from a personnel standpoint, then you can start to at least formulate what the qualities are in terms of the coaches that you plan to have lead that group. The good news is they have somewhat of a blank canvas.
To what degree should Bryant have a role in deciding the Lakers’ next coach?
Johnson: There has to be a combination of both and communication with Kobe Bryant in terms of where they are. A lot of that depends on what kind of free agents they can attract. If they don’t attract any level 1 free agents, if they get a level 2 guy, the expectations probably are going to have to be toned down a little bit because they won’t be a championship caliber team.
He is a challenge. But at the same time, there are a lot of coaches sitting on the sidelines right now that would love to have an opportunity to work with Kobe Bryant. There are a lot of coaches who take a flight to LA to have an opportunity to work with Kobe Bryant even if it is in the twilight of his career with his professionalism, work ethic and championship pedigree. A lot of guys would love to have an opportunity to help him go out on top.”
Jackson: “I subscribe to what Kobe Bryant has told everyone in that he is a player and he will play. Being as great of a player that he is, Kobe Bryant can play with anyone. I think what Kobe Bryant, I don’t want to put words in his mouth, I think what he’s saying is that I play and I can play with anyone but I’m riding the faith that my teammates are going to fit together and there’s a philosophy there that we can work on and be productive. I think that’s what he’s saying. I don’t think he’s saying I have to be involved.”
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