The old saying goes, no news is good news…
But does that apply to the Lakers?
On Wednesday the two coaches most in demand to fill vacant jobs were snatched up as Stan Van Gundy signed on to be the Pistons’ Doc Rivers (SVG will get control of basketball operations along with his coaching title) while Steve Kerr spurned the Knicks to coach the Warriors. In the Lakers’ shotgun approach to searching for a coach to replace Mike D’Antoni, both Kerr and Van Gundy were rumored to be on the long list of interested targets. Now both are gone.
Meanwhile, in El Segundo, all is quiet on the western front.
Since an initial report of the intent to seek permission to speak to Tom Thibodeau and the aforementioned leaks of multiple candidates who would interest the Lakers, there has been no word of the team moving forward with scheduling interviews or even putting out feelers to gauge interest in their sideline vacancy. And, as far as what is public information, that request to Bulls has not yet been made.
The draft lottery is scheduled for Tuesday, May 20th. It will be that date that the Lakers will learn whether they luck out by jumping into the top 3, stand pat at 6, or fall to one of the 7 through 9 slots. And, I imagine, that will also be the date that the team starts to seriously consider how it will move forward with the hiring process of their new coach.
If this really is the plan, I am on board with it 100%. I see no reason to rush hiring a coach. The Lakers already did that when chasing Mike Brown and in choosing his successor. Doing so again would be a mistake. This hire will be the most important decision the organization makes since it took a chance on Andrew Bynum with the 10th pick in draft nine summers ago. They cannot afford to get this decision wrong and the person who signs on must understand that he will need to navigate what will be a minefield of expectations and impatience stemming from the closure of Kobe’s career. And while there will also be the sentiment that time will be needed to make the needed strides to become competitive again, frustration will quickly mount if (when?) the team loses.
Handling this situation will take a special type of coach who can project confidence, insulate himself from the inevitable criticism and doubt that comes from losing, while also instilling the core values and work ethic that winning programs are built upon. Finding this person will not be easy and it will take time and patience to sort out who can actually fill this void.
In a way, it is the gravity of this hire that actually has me finding comfort with there being little movement to this point. Because once the decision is made, there really is no turning back. So better to take the time now and leave no stone unturned than think you have the right guy only to, in a year or 18 months, know that you actually do not. In other words, take your time Lakers. Because whoever the next coach is the clock starts ticking and with his hire there will be news whether they want it or not.
Just ask the last two guys who had the job.