Rudy Tomjanovich served as the Lakers’ replacement head coach the last time Phil Jackson took his leave from the game, but Rudy T likely won’t be around to see the beginning of L.A.’s second post-Phil era. According to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register, Tomjanovich — who had been retained by the Lakers in a consulting role since he stepped down as head coach in 2005 — is a Lakers employee no more.
It’s not uncommon to see experienced NBA head coaches serve as consultants if their coaching contracts come to a premature conclusion, so the fact that Tomjanovich remained with the Lakers up to this point is hardly shocking. The roles of these coach consultants vary from franchise to franchise, but responsibilities ranging from scouting to personnel advisement can be included under their jurisdiction, while others are “consultants” in name only.
Tomjanovich’s role, however, appears to have been pretty unique according to Ding’s report, and it’s that quality that could potentially bring Tomjanovich back to the Lakers under Mike Brown:
It remains possible Tomjanovich could remain in touch in a distant, different way, as he and son Trey recently made a presentation to Mike Brown’s new Lakers coaching staff about hiring them for their basketball statistical program. Trey Tomjanovich has provided software to the Lakers before, and his father’s reports to Jackson’s staff became increasingly stats-based.
Plenty of NBA teams have consultants who specialize in quantitative work, but I’d wager that few of those consultants — if any — are storied NBA coaches in their own right. It’s still too early to know whether Tomjanovich’s interest in working with Mike Brown is reciprocated, but if nothing Tomjanovich serves as an interesting example of an old school coach turned new school analyst.