Hours after the Lakers informed Mike Brown he was out as head coach in Los Angeles, the team has already narrowed its search to two candidates.
The names are familiar, and are the two who would each seem to make perfect sense for their own reasons.
Phil Jackson and Mike D’Antoni are atop the Lakers’ wish list to replace Brown as head coach, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles. The process is expected to move quickly, and will move beyond those two if there’s no mutual interest.
The Lakers are expected to reach out to both men as early as Saturday morning, as well as several other candidates. They’d like to move quickly through this process as interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff has only committed to working a few games.
“It’s not going to be a long process; that’s for damn sure,” a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “But they’re going to do their due diligence.”
A meeting with Jackson could happen by the end of the weekend.
Jackson certainly has the pedigree, winning championships with Kobe Bryant five times during two separate coaching campaigns with the Lakers. He left on his own after the team failed in its three-peat bid in 2011, where L.A. was unexpectedly and unceremoniously swept out of the second round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks.
Mike D’Antoni was responsible for some of the most successful recent seasons in Phoenix, where he was Steve Nash’s head coach running the Seven Seconds or Less offense that resulted in two MVPs for Nash in the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
The concern with Jackson would be whether he still has the desire, and the concern with D’Antoni has always been defense.
We’ll see if the Lakers can coerce either man back to the bench, but whether they can or can’t, expect the decision to come down just as soon as they can lock up someone whose name appears on that very short list.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.