Lakers asked, but Terry Stotts will not be assistant coach if L.A. hires someone else

2021 NBA Playoffs - Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets
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Tuesday, Terry Stotts formally had his second interview to be the next Los Angeles Lakers head coach.

If he doesn’t get that job, he is not coming to Los Angeles to be the lead assistant to Darvin Ham or anyone else. The Lakers asked — twice — and were shot down both times, reports Dan Woike at the Los Angeles Times.

According to sources, Stotts was asked previously if he would have interest in joining the Lakers as an assistant should he not be hired as a head coach. Stotts, sources said, told the team that he has no interest in a role as a lead assistant. Stotts was approached about joining Frank Vogel in that role last season on the Lakers’ bench and also declined, sources said.

Bucks’ assistant Ham is considered the front runner to be the next Lakers’ coach (he’s reportedly the guy LeBron James backs among the finalists). He and the third finalist, Kenny Atkinson, will have their second interviews in the coming days.

Ham, Stotts, and Atkinson are also finalists for the Charlotte Hornets’ head coaching job.

Los Angeles would be Ham’s first head coaching job. Considering the Lakers are a win-now team, it’s not uncommon or unreasonable for management to demand an experienced NBA head coach be the lead assistant, to smooth out some of the learning curve for the job. However, not letting Ham pick that coach is very Lakers. Rob Pelinka and the L.A. management like choosing the assistant coaches for their head coach — they demanded Frank Vogel have Jason Kidd as his lead assistant. That demand was part of the reason negotiations fell apart with Tyronn Lue to be the Lakers head coach back in 2019.

Stotts, who spent nine seasons as the head coach in Portland, is not taking a job anywhere as the second chair. He brings a creative offensive mind to the table and a long-running strong relationship with a superstar in Damian Lillard (although Lillard and LeBron are very different personalities). That’s enough to get Stotts a head coaching job, and he will wait for that moment.

There are reports the Lakers continue to slow play their coaching search in hopes that another candidate will become available. University of Michigan’s Juwan Howard turned down the chance to be part of the Lakers interview process. Neither Doc Rivers (Philadelphia) nor Quin Snyder (Utah) have left their current jobs.

There remains no timetable for the Lakers to make their coaching announcement. However, the NBA is never fond of moves that upstage the NBA Finals games when they arrive starting June 2.