The conventional wisdom is that the Lakers would go through the motions of a coaching search, then hire lead assistant Brian Shaw. The reasoning being that they have a two-time championship roster built to run the triangle offense, so you stick with what works.
But there is this one little discussed fact — owner Jerry Buss is not a huge fan of the triangle. He liked all the winning that came with Phil Jackson, but he preferred to watch a more entertaining “show time” transition offense.
Plus that championship offense didn’t look good the last week, did it?
Which is why we should take seriously the report from J.A. Adande at ESPN that the Lakers coaching search is not going to be limited in scope, or move quickly.
“That’s down the road right now,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said (of hiring a coach). “That’s not something that we’re probably going to address right away.”
A source described the Lakers’ coaching search as “wide open.” He said the decision-making chain was executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss, owner Jerry Buss, then Kupchak — “in that order.”
The Lakers management has always been deliberate, not a franchise prone to knee-jerk reactions but trying to picture the long term. That will be the case here.
But that management has to decide first what kind of team they want to have — triangle, motion offense, more transition — and then start building the roster to play it. Then hire a coach to execute it.
Problem is, the Lakers don’t have a lot of room to maneuver to reshape the roster under the current salary cap, let alone the more restrictive one coming with the new collective bargaining agreement. Even if Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes don’t return, they have $88 million in contracts lined up for next season (way over the cap and luxury tax lines). The most moveable assets are the big men — Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum — but getting back equal value is nearly impossible. Plus, do you want to build a running team around Kobe Bryant at this point in his career?
The rebuilding of this roster to play another system — especially if that is a transition to a running offense, which would require a much younger and more athletic roster — is going to take time. Years.
Lots of decisions, and it likely will not be until the coaching search we see what the Lakers are thinking.