Amid all the unanswered questions who the Lakers will hire as their next head coach and when, two team sources strongly disputed that any delay stems from waiting out to see if Clippers coach Doc Rivers will become available because of embattled owner Donald Sterling prolonging a costly litigation battle.
ESPN’s Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose each brought up that prospective theory on why the Lakers have gone three months without hiring a coach since Mike D’Antoni’s resignation on April 30. Clippers interim Chief executive Dick Parsons also testified in court Tuesday that Rivers does not want to continue to coach if Sterling still owns the team next season.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak stood before a bunch of microphones, tape recorders and cameras, but his presence on Wednesday at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo hardly cleared up the uncertainty on where the team stands with its coaching vacancy.
Kupchak displayed Ed Davis’ No. 21 Lakers’ jersey. Kupchak gushed about Davis’ potential. Kupchak vaguely spoke about how the Lakers “made significant improvements and changes” to their roster despite losing out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony as well as losing Pau Gasol. Then, Kupchak ducked out of the press conference room without taking any questions from reporters.
The Lakers have said that the prolonged delay all stemmed from wanting to concentrate on the NBA draft and filling out their roster during free agency. They also said the personnel would dictate who they hire as a coach. But after initially believing the coaching hire would be resolved within this week, a Lakers official on Wednesday hardly provided much clarity on the finality.
Still, the Lakers have not interviewed any candidates since free agency began this month except for Byron Scott last week, according to league sources familiar with the situation. The Lakers also have not currently scheduled any future interviews.
Scott has been considered the favorite after interviewing with the Lakers three times since their coaching search began. He has spent recent weeks making contingency plans on how he will coach the team’s assembled roster. Scott also strongly wants the job after playing 10 of his 14 years in the NBA with the Showtime Lakers and having three coaching stints with New Jersey (2000-04), New Orleans (2004-09) and Cleveland (2010-2013).
“Byron is ready to work,” said a source familiar with Scott’s thinking.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org