In a sign that the Lakers may just expand the powers of general manager Rob Pelinka and not bring in someone to replace Magic Johnson atop the basketball operations food chain, the team is moving full speed ahead with its coaching search one day after Luke Walton was out the door.
Two reports say the Lakers are starting the process with the two names that quickly surfaced after — actually, before — Walton was gone: Tyronn Lue and Monty Williams.
Lue is currently not working and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports said that meeting likely happens next week.
Williams is an assistant coach with the Sixers, so his plate is full right now (he and the entire Sixers coaching staff will be putting in long hours after Saturday’s loss to the Nets). Still, the Lakers have started the process of talking to him, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been granted permission to discuss the franchise’s head-coach opening with Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams, league sources told ESPN….
The expectation is that Pelinka likely will speak to Williams on the phone or travel east to meet with him because the 76ers’ first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets just started, league sources said.
While LeBron James does not get to pick the next Lakers coach, his seal of approval matters. Both Lue and Williams would get that. Lue was LeBron’s coach in Cleveland and won a title with him. Williams, who was the Pelicans’ head coach for five seasons, knows LeBron through USA Basketball and would give him a thumbs up as well.
Whoever lands the Lakers coaching job will have a lot of work to do, melding a roster that will see a lot of turnover this summer. The Lakers are going big game hunting for elite free agents or stars who become available via trades, but around them the roster will shift as well as all the one-year contracts the Lakers had expire and they look to fill the roster out with players who fit whatever system the team is going for under the new coach. Also, this time the Lakers should look for a little more shooting.
It appears more and more that Pelinka — the former agent for Kobe Bryant and other NBA players, now in just his second year as a GM — will be running the Lakers basketball operations and constructing the new roster. That is not the direction most around the league first expected Los Angeles to go — the Lakers were expected to chase big name front office people, ones they could poach from other teams or who happened to be available, but instead owner Jeanie Buss seems to be leaning toward the familiar, the person she knows.