The Lakers have narrowed down their slow, exhaustive coaching search only to candidates that have previous head-coaching experience, according to a league source familiar with the situation.
Where that ends up remains to be seen. It is a “50-50 chance,” as one league source put it, that the Lakers will hire a coach before the NBA Draft on June 26. But it appears safe to rule out one prominent candidate to coach the Lakers: Derek Fisher.
The Los Angeles Times first reported the development surrounding the Lakers’ stance on Fisher’s potential candidacy.
Though he lacks any head- coaching experience, Fisher became an intriguing option because of his strong equity with the Lakers, stemmed from five NBA championships, his close relationship with Kobe Bryant and becoming a locker room leader for most of his 18-year NBA career. Former Lakers coach and New York Knicks president Phil Jackson also expressed interest in Fisher, an admission that sparked the NBA to slap him with a $25,000 fine for violating tampering rules. Team officials cannot publicly discuss any interest about an opposing team’s player under contract. Though Fisher plans to retire, his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder does not expire until June 30.
Jackson is reported to have talked with Fisher. The Lakers never reached out to the Thunder to seek permission to interview Fisher.
The Lakers do not currently have any interviews scheduled for next week, though they plan to add more at some point. They have spent the past six weeks interviewing a number of candidates with past ties to the Lakers (Mike Dunleavy, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis) and others with previous head-coaching gigs (Alvin Gentry, Lionel Hollins). Former Denver Nuggets coach George Karl also informally spoke with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak before the interviews started, though both parties feel lukewarm about a partnership.
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