Jim Buss knows who the Lakers bring in as a head coach is a defining hire for his legacy as the owner of the Lakers. In his first moves he has tried to make bold strokes to return the Lakers to championship status — trade for Dwight Howard, hire Mike D’Antoni (who has now resigned) — but nobody thought the chemistry through well and it all blew up.
Now the Lakers are hitting a reset and rebuilding, and Buss knows he has to get this one right. The coach, the draft pick, all of it. So the Lakers are going to go slow and cast a very wide net to find a new coach — they are going to talk to everybody.
Ideally that will include Tom Thibodeau, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
Thibs is who Kobe Bryant wants, and it is an open secret around the league that there is friction between the Bulls coach and that team’s GM Gar Forman.
But do you really see Thibodeau jumping from a Bulls’ team he has built in his image and one — with a good power forward who can score and a healthy Derrick Rose — that is a title contender, to take on a rebuilding project in Los Angeles? Thibodeau signed an extension recently, the Bulls may well not even give permission.
Thibodeau is a big name but far from the only one to leak out as to be interviewed. Here are some others via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times and Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
I have written about some of the more name candidates in detail, but that list was maybe half (or less) of who gets interviewed.
This is a wide-open search, although my sources have said to keep an eye on Byron Scott — he is a former Laker, part of the family, has coached the Nets to the NBA Finals twice and is a Buss family favorite. He’s far from a lock, but he’s someone to watch.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.