The hiring of Kurt Rambis to be an assistant coach on Mike D’Antoni’s staff was interesting, to say the least.
In terms of the politics and constant speculation surrounding the Lakers, it made for some interesting conspiracy theories, considering that D’Antoni is largely believed to be a short-term solution, while Rambis has a long history with the team which includes being a lead assistant during the tenure of Phil Jackson.
If you were surprised by D’Antoni adding Rambis to his staff given all of the things that are in play, you weren’t the only one. Rambis himself said he definitely didn’t see this coming.
“Mike D’Antoni came to me several weeks ago and asked if I’d be interested in the job,” Rambis said, in an interview with Lakers Nation. “Quite frankly, I was a little bit shocked about that, and for him, he said it was a no-brainer, and I jumped on it right away. I said, ‘This would be great, I think it would work out well for both of us.’”
Rambis continued by saying that, after their initial meeting, D’Antoni was convinced that after running it by Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, it would be a “done deal.” Prior to meeting over lunch, Rambis couldn’t have imagined that D’Antoni would be asking him to join his coaching staff.
“We rekindled our friendship. We’ve known each other for several years going back in coaching circles. It was kind of an interesting conversation, I just had no idea that that’s the direction it was going to go.”
The wildest theory out there suggests that once the Lakers potentially reload in free agency next summer, that Phil Jackson would return to the bench for one last tour, with Rambis by his side easing that transition. Or, even that Rambis and Jackson would share the head coaching duties, given Jackson’s age and his preference to limit travel over the course of a grueling 82-game regular season schedule as much as possible.
All of that makes for great sports talk radio fodder, but what’s more likely is the fact that Rambis is the most qualified candidate left to fill out D’Antoni’s staff at this point — both due to his NBA coaching resume, as well as his relationship with the Lakers franchise.
The volatile situation the franchise is currently facing scared off guys like Alvin Gentry and Nate McMillan, who took jobs with contenders this offseason instead of signing up to join the Lakers circus.
Rambis knows the family politics, and knows better than anyone the situation he’s stepping into there; credit D’Antoni for reaching out to him and adding a quality assistant coach to his bench.