Former Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts became the first of the three reported finalists to have an in-person interview for the Lakers‘ coaching vacancy, writes Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times.
Stotts, who coached 10 years in Portland before parting ways with the organization last offseason, is only interested in the head coaching role, sources tell Woike. He informed Lakers management that he doesn’t want to join the team as a lead assistant if he’s not hired as the head coach. Stotts turned down an opportunity to take a lead assistant’s role under former head coach Frank Vogel last season, Woike adds.
There had been rumors that L.A. would consider making Stotts an assistant if it hires Ham, who would be a first-time head coach, tweets Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
Among the reasons Vogel was fired was a disappointing season for Russell Westbrook, whom the Lakers expected to form a Big Three with LeBron James and Anthony Davis when they acquired him in a major trade last summer. Stotts is intrigued by Westbrook’s talents and believes he can help him find a more comfortable role than he had this season, according to Mark Medina of NBA.com (Twitter link).
Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson are expected to meet with the Lakers soon. Scheduling an in-person interview with Atkinson is complicated because Golden State is in the Western Conference Finals.
Stotts, Ham and Atkinson are the only finalists that have been reported for the position, although a source told Marc Stein this week that the Lakers may still be considering other candidates. Sixers coach Doc Rivers and Jazz coach Quin Snyder have been mentioned as possibilities if they were to become available, but there has been no indication that’ll happen.
In a separate L.A. Times story, Woike and Broderick Turner review the qualifications for Stotts, Ham and Atkinson and examine the arguments for and against hiring each of them.