As our head coaching search tracker shows, there are currently three NBA head coaching jobs up for grabs. That number looked like it might get as high as five early in the offseason, but the Kings quickly replaced Dave Joerger with Luke Walton, while the Timberwolves appear likely – for now – to retain interim coach Ryan Saunders.
That leaves three teams in the market for a head coach. The most noteworthy club in that group is the Lakers, who are undergoing some upheaval in the front office as well after Magic Johnson‘s abrupt resignation.
Walton was originally hired in Los Angeles to help develop the team’s group of young prospects, and he was doing a decent job of that before the 2018/19 season rolled around. Once LeBron James joined the Lakers, expectations changed for Walton and the team, and like David Blatt in Cleveland, he was no longer viewed as the right man for the job.
Coaching James isn’t an easy job, and the Lakers are in disarray at the moment, but they’re still the Lakers, one of the most storied franchises in any sport. And of the three teams seeking head coaches, they’re the closest to contention, particularly if they’re able to land a second star to pair with LeBron on the trade market or in free agency this summer. That should make the job appealing to veteran coaches, particularly those with previous head coaching experiences.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, will likely be in the market for a younger, up-and-coming coach who has a strong player-development background and perhaps extensive experience as an assistant as well.
With LeBron no longer around in Cleveland, the Cavaliers are still in the relatively early stages of a full-fledged rebuild, with building blocks like Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance, and a top-six pick in 2019 making up the future core. Since contention isn’t an immediate priority, the Cavs will want to find their own version of Kenny Atkinson or Lloyd Pierce, who can grow along with the team’s young players.
As for the Grizzlies, they might be somewhere in the middle. As long as Mike Conley is still on the roster, the team won’t be entering a full-fledged rebuild. But there’s no guarantee that the new decision-makers in the front office won’t trade Conley this season, kick-starting a rebuild centered around Jaren Jackson.
None of these jobs necessarily represents a perfect situation for a new head coach. The Lakers haven’t been to the postseason since 2013, their president of basketball operations just quit on the team, and no NBA player has more power than LeBron. The Cavs’ roster isn’t exactly loaded with talent, and Dan Gilbert doesn’t have a reputation as one of the league’s best owners. The Grizzlies just fired head coach J.B. Bickerstaff hours after since-demoted general manager Chris Wallace assured reporters that Bickerstaff would be back for 2019/20.
What do you think? Which of these head coaching openings looks most appealing? And would the Kings have been your pick if they hadn’t filled their vacancy so quickly?
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