Byron Scott is getting a second interview with the Lakers, but hold your horses if you think that means the job is Scott’s.
Kurt Rambis – who seems to have a fallback option as a Knicks assistant under Derek Fisher – is still in the mix.
Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:
Rambis also remains a favorite for the Lakers’ head-coaching position, according to league sources. The Lakers have interviewed at least a half-dozen coaches, but sources say they are focused on three primary candidates: Rambis, Alvin Gentry and Byron Scott.
So, does this report contradict the report that the Lakers are waiting for LeBron James to pick their next coach? Or does LeBron get to pick between Rambis, Gentry and Scott? Because I don’t see how he can turn down an opportunity like that.
The wording – “a favorite” – leaves it a little unclear whether Rambis is any more favored than Gentry and Scott, but it implies Rambis is at least tied at the top of Los Angeles’ list.
I suppose the Lakers can cling to the 1999 season, when Rambis took over mid-year. They fired Del Harris after a 6-6 start, and Rambis stepped in to guide Los Angeles to a 24-13 finish and playoff-series win.
Personally, I find Rambis’ stint with the Timberwolves from 2009-11 more telling. In his two years as head coach, Minnesota went 15-67 and 17-65. With Kevin Love, Al Jefferson, Corey Brewer and Ramon Sessions that first team didn’t completely lack talent, and healthier Love should have meant more than 17 wins in the second season. Those Timberwolves teams always just looked lost.
There might be value in having a coach who has previously been a member of the Lakers family. There’s more value in having a good coach.
It’s ridiculous to talk about Kevin Durant’s 2016 potential free agency at this point, we don’t know what the NBA landscape will look like at that point. We don’t know what the Thunder will look like, what the Western Conference will look like, if OKC will have won a title, if a whole lot of things.
But Durant is such a transcendent player, one who can instantly change the fortune of a franchise, that front offices around the league are calculating to have cap space and ways to entice him in two years. It’s GMs jobs to think like that.
That is one of the benefits of bringing Derek Fisher in as coach, something Marc Stein mentioned at ESPN (buried in his post about how Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James would love to play together).
The Knicks, sources say, expect to be a contender for Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant when he is projected to become a free agent in July 2016 and believe their chances will be enhanced by the presence of Fisher, one of Durant’s favorite teammates with the Thunder.
First, would Durant want to leave OKC to hear Derek Fisher’s long-winded speeches again?
Of course, the real question is will Durant (who will be 27 at the time and entering his prime) want to leave Oklahoma City in 2016? The answer very well may be no. He’s a different guy than a lot of the other top players in the league, he is not automatically drawn to the bright lights of major markets like a moth to a bug zapper. He’s happy where he is right now.
If he were to consider leaving, it would be about winning a ring — he would still have to be without one and have serious doubts it can happen in OKC. He would have to think the chances are better wherever he would go — and like LeBron, 29 other teams would find a way to make cap space for him. If he wants to go somewhere, that team will shed salary and do whatever is necessary to make it happen.
Could that be New York? Maybe. Frankly it will take a heck of a lot more than Derek Fisher, it will take Phil Jackson’s culture change in New York already showing real dividends on the court. But we are too far away to really speculate about Durant going to NYC or anywhere else. The smart bet right now is he stays put because the Thunder are already on the cusp of a title.
Derek Fisher the player became a well-respected veteran presence in NBA locker rooms not only due to his history of producing consistently under the most pressure-packed of circumstances, but also because of the way he could command the room when giving speeches to his fellow players.
That communication style, however, may not be seen under the same positive light coming from Fisher the head coach.
In his new role patrolling the sidelines for the New York Knicks, Fisher has the cache that comes with winning championships and playing 18 NBA seasons. But at least one source believes that Fisher will have to reduce his customary chatter in order to hold his players’ attention.
From Marc Berman of the New York Post:
Fisher’s speech-making skills are good for dreary lockout meetings and introductory press conferences. But this is what one Thunder insider told me during the conference finals:
“The thing that worries me about Derek as a coach is it’s one thing to give speeches as a player because it’s unique,” the source said. “But the players don’t want to hear long speeches from the coach every day during the season. Players may roll their eyes. Hopefully, Phil will guide him there.’’
One person close to Fisher says admiringly, “He has the ability to talk a lot but not really reveal anything.’’
Fisher was hired primarily because of his prior relationship with Phil Jackson, and Jackson will most certainly mentor him throughout the learning process.
If the players indeed grow weary of Fisher’s extended dialogues, it’s something that should be evident the moment the trend emerges, and it’s something that can be easily fixed. But it seems more than a bit silly to start looking for reasons Fisher might fail before he’s worked a single day of the five years he’s now under contract as head coach of the Knicks.
Phil Jackson, in the press conference to introduce the Knicks’ new coach, called Derek Fisher “hip-hop ready to get going with this group of guys and their language.”
I figure Jackson was talking about New York’s players, but apparently Bill Clinton shares Fisher’s dialect, too.
Regardless of political leaning, getting congratulated on a new job by a former President of the United States is pretty darn awesome.
Fisher, who was born in Arkansas, met Clinton – then the state’s governor – as a high schooler. Fisher went on to play at Arkansas-Little Rock and then in the NBA, and Clinton obviously moved to Washington. They reconvened in New York in 2011 as Fisher was negotiating during the NBA lockout, and they’ll share the city once again.
Want to discuss Fisher’s leadership credentials? It’s not being “hip-hop ready.” It’s being chummy with a former president.
Take this report with a handful of salt for two key reasons:
1) Whenever a player is going through rehab and workouts to get back the teams are generous with compliments, to encourage the steps.
2) Knicks GM Steve Mills is not exactly the power broker in the Knicks front office. Nice title but he’s not the guy making the call.
That said, after the Derek Fisher introductory press conference broke up, Mills was interviewed on a variety of topics and was asked about Lamar Odom, who is supposed to be working out with the Knicks this summer and getting back in basketball shape. Odom is technically under contract for next season with the Knicks but that is not a guaranteed deal.
Mills said he liked the track Odom was on and expected him to be part of the Knicks team next season.
We’ll see. Odom has a lot of personal things to get over to get his head right enough to get back in the league. If he can do that, can he get a body that will turn 35 early next season into a condition well enough to play in the NBA again?
Here is what Jackson said about Odom a few weeks back when asked:
“We know he’s a really good basketball player. If he wants to put himself back together in a basketball life, he’s got a chance to do this by having a whole summer to work at it and get himself back in basketball condition so he can play. He’s told me that’s what he wanted to do. Having a relationship with him, I figure this is a pretty good risk/reward situation for us.”
The Knicks could use a guy like Odom, at least the old Odom. First off, his point forward skills are difficult to find in this league. Second, the Knicks could use guys that know the triangle offense because that is what Fisher suggested he would run, and it’s an offense that takes a while to really grasp because it is read and react, not traditional set plays. Tom Thibodeau brought Brian Scalabrine over from Boston to Chicago as a player, not because Scalabrine was phenomenal at his defensive schemes, but he understood them and could almost serve as a second coach when teaching the system. Odom could serve that kind of role.
If he is ready.