Luke Walton won just 40% of his games coaching the Lakers then immediately got hired by the Kings – a historically poor record for a coach landing on his feet.
The Lakers are giving J.B. Bickerstaff a chance to undercut Walton’s mark. Bickerstaff won just 33% of his games with the Grizzlies before they fired him last month, but the Lakers will still interview him.
Bickerstaff is scheduled to meet with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, general manager Rob Pelinka, co-owners Joey Buss and Jesse Buss, president of business operations Tim Harris, director of special projects Linda Rambis and senior advisor Kurt Rambis.
Bickerstaff joins Jason Kidd, Juwan Howard, Lionel Hollins, Frank Vogel and Mike Woodson as known candidates for the Lakers once Tyronn Lue bailed. In previous head-coaching jobs, Bickerstaff, Hollins, Vogel and Woodson have leaned toward old-school styles. The Lakers definitely have a type.
That includes favoring people with ties to the organization. Bickerstaff’s father, Bernie Bickerstaff, was previously a Lakers assistant coach. In fact, Bernie Bickerstaff’s 4-1 record as interim coach between Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni in 2012 gives him the best win percentage in franchise history, ahead of Pat Riley. Though J.B. Bickerstaff has worked to make his own name for himself, his familial connection probably matters to the Lakers.
J.B. Bickerstaff’s year-and-a-half tenure in Memphis was largely forgettable. Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are aging, and it showed. The roster wasn’t good enough to win much, so it didn’t win much. The Grizzlies generally played hard, and Bickerstaff frequently had to acclimate an ever-changing cast of players. But the coach didn’t exactly distinguish himself.
But he apparently did enough to get an interview with the NBA’s most prominent franchise.