Who Could Coach the Lakers?

25 May

By Darius Barnes

The Los Angeles Lakers were one, if not the front runner to win the NBA Finals this year, but their dreams and fans dreams were cut short with a sweep in the second round by the hot shooting of the Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers were just too slow and out of sync after struggling with the New Orleans Hornets in the first round.

We all knew coming into this year that it was possibly Phil Jackson’s last year. He has won and set numerous records and goes out as arguably the best coach in the history of the NBA, if not in all sports. The question we have been pondering since the Lakers departure from the playoffs is if Phil really retires, who will replace him? There have been a few names floating around on who would be a possible fit but no one really knows. One thing we can probably be sure of is Kobe Bryant will have a say in who will lead him after all it is Kobe’s team right?

We’ll take a look at some possible candidates on who would be a great fit and names that have been mentioned to take over the head coaching job for the Los Angeles Lakers.

If you haven’t heard, multiple sources are reporting that the Lakers are reaching out to Mike Brown former Cleveland Cavaliers Coach. Brown had a nice resume with the Cavaliers spending five years with the LeBron James-led Cavaliers and guided the club to a record of 272-138 with playoff appearances each year. The Cavs reached the NBA Finals in 2007 and were swept by San Antonio. After a 66-16 record in 2008-09, Brown was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year, but the Cavaliers bowed out in the Eastern Conference finals that spring to Orlando. He was fired following the 2009-10 campaign that included a mark of 61-21 in the regular season, but a second-round playoff exit to Boston. This shouldn’t have warranted him being fired but some speculate Brown and LeBron didn’t see eye to eye. So with free agency for LeBron looming, Brown was ousted.

Outside of the recent headlines the first name that comes to mind is Brian Shaw, Lakers assistant coach. He has been with Phil for sixth full season. He is a former NBA player and played four seasons with the Lakers (1999-2003), helping the team to three consecutive NBA Championships (2000, 2001, 2002). Now you would think he would be at the top of the list, but is he seasoned enough or even old enough to gain the respect of players. Notably Kobe, who coincidentally has endorsed Shaw. One thing that is on his side is being a former Laker and working along side of Phil, he knows the triangle offense in his sleep.

Byron Scott, Cavaliers Head Coach is a former Laker, and a one-time mentor to Kobe Bryant, there are many people in and outside the organization who would like to see Scott become the next Lakers coach. As a head coach in New Jersey, Scott took the Nets to the NBA Finals twice. He also coached the New Orleans Hornets and had them at the top of the league for a brief stint. Scott’s stints in New Jersey and New Orleans both ended badly. He feuded with Jason Kidd in New Jersey, leading him to get fired after a 22-20 start in the season after a second straight finals appearance. His Hornets players complained he was too much of a hard-ass and basically gave up on him in the 2009 playoffs. This may cause a second evaluation on the decision to hire Scott and move him down the ladder of possible coaches.

Kurt Rambis, Timberwolves Head Coach
Former NBA player and an assistant coach on Phil Jackson’s Los Angeles Lakers staff for seven seasons (2001-04, 2005-09). As an assistant, Rambis helped guide the Los Angeles to four NBA Finals appearances (2002, 2004, 2008, 2009), with the Lakers winning the NBA Championship in 2002 and 2009. Rambis recently acquired the head coaching for the Minnesota Timberwolves so leaving them and he’s under contract will be tough. Phil Jackson would love for his former top assistant to replace him but I doubt that Wolves GM David Kahn would let Rambis out of his contract.

Jim Cleamons, Lakers assistant Coach Played as a rookie on the legendary 1971-72 Lakers NBA Championship team that won a professional sports record 33 consecutive games. Upon his return to Los Angeles 28 years later, Cleamons’ impact has been much more profound, serving as an assistant coach and helping guide the Lakers to five championships in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010. After reuniting prior to the 1999-2000 season with both the Lakers and head coach Phil Jackson, whom he served as an assistant coach under for seven seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Cleamons once again rejoined the Lakers and Jackson (after being an assistant under Byron Scott for the Hornets) for the 2006-07 campaign and is now entering his 10th season as an assistant with the team. Cleamons has an impressive track record winning just as much as Phil but only as an assistant. This could be a plus or negative. But lets just say he atleast knows the formula to winning, the biggest question? Can he execute it?

Larry Brown, former Bobcats Head Coach (as well as seemingly half the teams in the league) lol. A Hall of Famer coach. The fourth-winningest coach in NBA history and universally acclaimed as one of the greatest teachers the sport has ever known. He has coached the Sixers leading them to the NBA finals, the Pistons which resulted in back-to-back Eastern Conference Championships and an NBA World Championship in 2004, The Knicks and most recently the Bobcasts leading them to their first playoff appearance this past year. Brown has won on many levels and is great at teaching and motivating his players. But has Brown reached his end?

Jeff Van Gundy, former Knicks and Rockets Head Coach Van Gundy’s name came up as a possible Lakers coach back in 2004. His name also came up for the Lakers job back in 1999 while he was feuding with Knicks ownership. He has one of the brightest minds in the game but he has been out the game for a while and his time may have passed. His defensive style might not work with the current personnel, and I don’t know if his personality is right for this particular Laker team.

Rick Adelman, Former Kings, Rockets and Portland Head Coach
Adelman has built a reputation for thriving with veteran teams and the similarities between Adelman’s ‘corner’ offense and Jackson’s ‘triangle’ offense is comparable. Adelman guided the Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals twice, losing in 1990 to the Detroit Pistons and 1992 to Jackson’s Chicago Bulls. Despite being the most successful coach in the history of the Sacramento Kings with a 395-229 regular-season record and eight consecutive playoff appearances, Adelman was fired after the 2005-06 season. Adelman, 65, was most recently head coach of the Houston Rockets and has a 945-616 career record with four teams. To me Adelman is the second best fit for the job based on his knowledge and approach to the game and recent coaching success.

In all the Lakers have some tough shoes to fill. Phil isn’t just a coach you replace over night. This will be a hard decision for the organization and may not work out the fist time around because as it’s said, you don’t want to be the guy that replaces the guy, but the one that follows. The Lakers are great organization and if they do fall off for a couple years, make no mistake they will be back on top at some point. I just hope the decision they make will be accepted by the players and Kobe gets one more run at a title before he decides to call it quits.

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