- Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka met with Sixers assistant Monty Williams earlier this week to discuss the club’s head coaching vacancy, and there’s an expectation on both sides that a second visit will occur at some point, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Williams is one of three known candidates for the Lakers’ job, along with Tyronn Lue and Juwan Howard.
As we detailed earlier this week, Tyronn Lue‘s meeting with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka about the team’s head coaching vacancy is taking place today, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms (via Twitter).
Lue has experience coaching LeBron James in Cleveland, which could be a point in his favor as Pelinka and the Lakers weigh their options for Luke Walton‘s replacement. As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst writes, coaching James isn’t without its challenges, but if a coach comes in with a game plan, holds LeBron accountable, and is prepared for push-back, he can succeed.
Lue and Monty Williams are among the candidates apparently in the running for the Lakers’ job, though both men have reportedly been warned to proceed with caution. As Colton Jones of Amico Hoops relays, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said during an appearance on 710 ESPN that “everyone in the league” has told Williams not to take the job, while Jorge Sedano of ESPN said one of Lue’s close friends has given the former Cavs coach a similar warning.
It remains to be seen which direction the Lakers are leaning, or whether they’ll expand their search beyond Lue, Williams, and Juwan Howard. However, Shelburne also notes that it wouldn’t be a total surprise if Williams prefers to remain with the Sixers, where he’s an assistant on Brett Brown‘s staff. His family is settled there, and he could be next in line if Philadelphia were to move on from Brown, says Shelburne (via Jones).
Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles teams:
- According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, there’s no indication that the Lakers plan to reach out to Clippers consultant Jerry West about the possibility of returning to the franchise following Magic Johnson‘s resignation from his president of basketball operations role. For his part, West said he’s preparing for an eventful offseason with the Clippers, but made no guarantees about his role next season and beyond. “Well, as far as I can tell, I really don’t have a future, OK? My future is now,” West told Amick. “I don’t really worry about that. I worry about getting through this season, and really concentrating – all of us, concentrating – on free agency.”
- Although they fell back to earth last night, the fact that the Clippers made the postseason and are capable of performances like their Game 2 win over Golden State bodes well for the pitch they can make to free agents this summer, writes Shaun Powell of NBA.com. Bill Plaschke of The Los Angeles Times conveys a similar sentiment, writing that the club’s future is bright regardless of what happens in the playoffs.
- In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks takes a deep dive into the Lakers’ offseason, exploring the head coaching search, the possibility of revisiting Anthony Davis trade talks, the club’s free agency options, and more.
- In an article for ESPN.com, Kevin Arnovitz makes the case for why the Lakers need to hire an outside to run their front office following Magic Johnson‘s departure from his president of basketball operations role.
On Tuesday, we asked which NBA head coaching vacancy looks like the most appealing, and so far, the Lakers are the pick. Despite all the drama in Los Angeles, the Lakers’ basketball situation still appears to be more favorable than that of the Grizzlies or Cavaliers.
The Lakers are also one of four teams with an opening at the top of their front office. In the wake of Magic Johnson‘s resignation, general manager Rob Pelinka is running the show in L.A., but there’s an expectation that the team will eventually hire someone to join him at the top of that hierarchy. It remains to be seen whether that means hiring a new president of basketball operations or perhaps promoting Pelinka and hiring someone underneath him.
Either way, a high-ranking job in the Lakers’ front office would be an intriguing one. Despite the team’s struggles in 2018/19, L.A. still has one of the NBA’s all-time greatest players (LeBron James) under contract for at least two more seasons and has the cap flexibility to pursue another star this summer. Some of the Lakers’ young players, such as Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, saw their value dip a little in recent months for health-related reasons, but there’s still a solid core of young players on the roster who could be dangled in trade talks or who could be contributors on the Lakers’ next playoff team.
The Grizzlies are another team in the market for a high-ranking basketball executive, though as in the case of the Lakers, it’s not clear exactly what that exec’s role would be. After demoting Chris Wallace, the Grizzlies announced that president of business operations Jason Wexler would oversee basketball operations too, with Zach Kleiman elevated to executive VP of basketball operations.
Neither Wexler nor Kleiman – who has a law background – is a true basketball executive, however. Presumably, the club will target a candidate with more of a background in player evaluation, scouting, and personnel decisions to join them in a key front office role. And that role could be an interesting one — Jaren Jackson looks like a keeper, and Mike Conley is a borderline All-Star who could be retained or traded. Owing a first-round pick to the Celtics is a nuisance, but once that pick is conveyed, Memphis would be in position to launch a full-fledged rebuild, allowing a new exec to help put his stamp on the team.
The Wizards‘ and Timberwolves‘ searches for new additions to their respective front offices appear more straightforward. Washington is seeking a replacement for Ernie Grunfeld, the team’s top decision-maker for years, and Minnesota publicly announced that it’s on the lookout for a new president of basketball operations.
In some ways, the Wizards’ and Timberwolves’ situations are similar. Each team has one overpriced long-term contract that may be a cap burden going forward – John Wall in Washington and Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota – but the presence of an All-Star (Karl-Anthony Towns and Bradley Beal) at least gives each franchise some hope.
Having players like Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Josh Okogie locked up in Minnesota may appeal to front office candidates. Of course, in D.C., only Wall, Beal, and Troy Brown are under contract beyond the 2019/20 season, which might be intriguing to a candidate looking for a bit more of a clean slate. Plus, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis probably has a better league-wide reputation than Glen Taylor, who has been known to get involved in the Wolves’ basketball decisions.
What do you think? Assuming the roles are relatively similar, and taking into account rosters, assets, and ownership situations, which of these four front office positions looks the most appealing to you?
Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to weigh in!
Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.
Lakers GM Rob Pelinka appears to be gaining more power inside of the team’s front office, Marc Stein of the New York Times writes in his weekly newsletter. The former agent is reportedly running Los Angeles’ search for a new head coach.
It’s curious that the team is searching for a coach before settling on an official head of basketball operations. Many organizations set up their front office structures prior to hiring a coach.
Stein provides more on the situation and passes along some additional nuggets in this week’s edition of the newsletter. Here are the highlights from his piece:
- There’s chatter within league circles that Sixers assistant coach Monty Williams’ candidacy for the Lakers‘ gig is as strong in part because some within the front office fear giving the job to Tyronn Lue would hand too much control to LeBron James. Williams met with Pelinka to discuss the position earlier today. Lue and Juwan Howard are among the other candidates rumored to be in contention for the position.
- The Sixers attempted to pry Warriors team president Bob Myers away from Golden State last offseason before deciding to promote Elton Brand to the role, Stein reports. Philadelphia also attempted to bring Rockets GM Daryl Morey to its front office.
- Morey’s recent contract extension from the Rockets is estimated to pay the executive in the neighborhood of $8MM annually, Stein hears. Magic Johnson‘s salary as the Lakers’ team president was estimated to be $10MM per year and Stein argues that Los Angeles could feasibly offer a candidate double that salary if they wanted to lure a prized rival executive.
- Stein writes that there is both “shock and relief” within the league that the Lakers haven’t attempted to poach a decorated rival executive, such as Myers, Spurs GM R.C. Buford, or Thunder GM Sam Presti.
The Bulls figure to cast a wide net as they seek out point guard help this summer, as it’s the position most in need of an upgrade on their roster. In fact, Chicago has already had at least one interesting discussion involving a point guard this year.
An NBA executive tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that the Bulls and Lakers had “initial conversations” about Lonzo Ball after Ball’s camp leaked that Chicago would be on the point guard’s list of preferred destinations if he were traded.
It’s not clear whether those in-season discussions went anywhere or if either team plans on revisiting them this summer, but it’s a signal that the Bulls figure to explore plenty of options as they consider how to fortify their point guard position.
Here’s more out of Chicago:
- According to one scout, the Bulls have “taken interest” in the Pistons’ roster, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, adding that the club likes Wayne Ellington‘s shooting and Ish Smith‘s ability to run a team. Both veterans will be free agents this offseason.
- While he recognizes that the Bulls aren’t likely to be major players for top free agents this year, executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson believes Chicago is on the right track to eventually become an attractive destination again, as Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “I do think that when you establish yourself, which we’re trying to do right now as a relevant team again, and as we get better positioning ourselves to have money when guys come up in the future, I think this will be a destination place,” Paxson said last week. “But we have to get better. That’s the thing. We have to get to a point where we are playing for important things. But our young guys have to develop into the type of players that other guys want to play with. And I think we have a couple guys right now on the roster and hopefully we’ll have more in the future.”
- Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago takes a closer look at the Bulls’ roster by position, identifying which players are likely – or unlikely – to return, and reiterating that point guard tops the club’s list of offseason needs.
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?
Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!
Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.
11:55am: Pelinka is meeting with Williams today to discuss the club’s head coaching job, tweets Turner.
10:46am: Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is scheduled to meet with Tyronn Lue this Friday in Los Angeles to discuss the team’s head coaching position, reports Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).
Lue is one of a handful of candidates the Lakers are said to be considering to replace Luke Walton, who was let go last week. Team officials are reportedly traveling to meet with Sixers assistant Monty Williams this week, and an interview with Heat assistant Juwan Howard is also expected to take place at some point this week.
A former NBA point guard, Lue began his coaching career as an assistant in Boston under Doc Rivers in 2011. After moving with Rivers to the Clippers for one season in 2013/14, Lue made his way to Cleveland, where he was an assistant for a year and a half before taking the head coaching reins from David Blatt midway through the 2015/16 campaign.
Lue led the Cavaliers to a championship that season and brought the team back to the NBA Finals in each of the following two years. After LeBron James‘ departure during the 2018 offseason, Lue lasted just six more games, having been replaced by Larry Drew in the fall once the Cavs started this season 0-6.
During his time in Cleveland, Lue had to take a health-related leave of absence due to chest pains which were believed to be compounded by stress. However, Joe Vardon of The Athletic recently wrote that the former Cavs coach is healthy now, having lost 35 pounds with a new workout plan and diet. The fact that Lue is willing to pursue the Lakers’ job suggests he’s confident he can return to a demanding position.
APRIL 15: The Kings have officially hired Walton as their new head coach, the team announced today in a press release.
“I have known Luke for many years and I am so excited to welcome him and his family to the Sacramento Kings,” Divac said in a statement. “I look forward to his leadership on the court as we work to build a winning culture for many years to come.”
APRIL 13: The Kings will hire Luke Walton as their next head coach, tweets Sean Cunningham of ABC10 in Sacramento. Walton and the Kings have agreed on a contract that will run through the 2022/23 season, tweets Sam Amick of The Athletic.
Sources tell Cunningham that the search moved quickly because of GM Vlade Divac’s fondness for Walton, whom he wanted to hire in 2016. Other candidates for the job were told they would only get an opportunity if negotiations with Walton fall through, per Amick (Twitter link).
Sacramento’s front office asked Walton to interview with them yesterday and was reportedly also seeking permission to talk with Spurs assistant Ettore Messina. Walton compiled a 98-148 mark in three seasons with the Lakers before mutually agreeing to part ways with the organization.
The Kings are about to hire their seventh head coach of the decade after their surprising decision to fire Dave Joerger on Thursday. Joerger won 98 games in three seasons and had Sacramento in the playoff race for most of the year. The team’s 39-43 record under Joerger in 2018/19 was its best mark since the 2005/06 season.
Walton has spent the last three seasons as the Lakers’ head coach, compiling a 98-148 (.398) overall mark with the franchise. Walton technically improved his record every year as the Lakers’ coach, winning 26, 35, and 37 games in his three seasons. However, this season’s squad, hit hard by injuries and negatively impacted by the midseason Anthony Davis trade-rumor saga, fell well short of expectations following last summer’s acquisition of LeBron James.
The Lakers’ underachievement resulted in Walton’s ouster this week, even with Magic Johnson no longer running the show in Los Angeles. However, it didn’t take the former Warriors assistant long to find a new head coaching job.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
So far this spring, we have yet to see the sort of NBA head coaching turnover we got a year ago, when eight teams made changes. However, a handful of clubs have parted ways – mutually or otherwise – with their head coaches since the end of the 2018/19 regular season.
In the space below, we’ll provide daily updates on the head coaching searches for each club that has yet to give anyone the permanent title. Some of these searches could extend well into the spring, so be sure to check back each day for the latest updates.
Updated 4-16-19 (11:57am CT)
- Out: Larry Drew (story)
- Expected to interview: Juwan Howard (story), Jamahl Mosley (story), Alex Jensen (story), David Vanterpool (story)
- Other rumored candidates or targets: Jordi Fernandez (story), Nate Tibbetts (story), Wes Unseld Jr. (story), Darvin Ham (story)
- Although Drew did an admirable job in difficult circumstances with the Cavaliers in 2018/19 after taking over for Tyronn Lue six games into the season, he never seemed to want the job on a permanent basis. He and the Cavs agreed to part ways at season’s end, and the team is now exploring the NBA assistant and college ranks in the hopes of hiring a coach with a strong background in player development.
Los Angeles Lakers
- Out: Luke Walton (story)
- Expected to interview: Tyronn Lue (story), Monty Williams (story), Juwan Howard (story)
- Other rumored candidates or targets: Mark Jackson (story)
- Even after Magic Johnson‘s resignation as president of basketball operations, the Lakers decided to make a head coaching change. General manager Rob Pelinka is running the search for Walton’s replacement in the absence of a president of basketball ops.
- Out: J.B. Bickerstaff (story)
- Rumored candidates or targets: None
- The Grizzlies‘ front office is in a state of upheaval as well, as veteran general manager Chris Wallace was re-assigned to the scouting department as the same time as Bickerstaff was dismissed. No names have really emerged yet as candidates to replace Bickerstaff, so perhaps Memphis will focus first on finalizing its new-look front office before hiring a new head coach.
- Out: Dave Joerger (story)
- In: Luke Walton (story)
- Also considered: Ettore Messina (story), Monty Williams (story)
- Just two days after they fired Joerger and one day after Walton officially left the Lakers, the Kings reached an agreement to hire Walton as their head coach on a contract that will run through the 2022/23 season. The expedited process reflected the fact that Walton was the No. 1 choice on Vlade Divac‘s wish list, as the recently-extended Kings GM wasted no time in going after his top target. Originally hired by the Lakers to focus on developing their young prospects, Walton should be tasked with a similar role in Sacramento.