The Lakers have already received permission to interview Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina, but he is not their only target who is currently assisting a league powerhouse hoping to make a run to the championship. The other, of course, is the Warriors’ Luke Walton and the Lakers have moved quickly to get permission to interview their former 2nd round draft pick as well.
Archives For Laker News
After parting ways with Byron Scott on Sunday, the Lakers are already moving forward in their search for a new head coach. While they are expected to look at a long list of candidates, it is a fair assumption they have a short list of top choices they would like to interview and gauge interest in soon.
Mitch Kupchak noted on Monday he does not envision the hiring process being strung out, explaining a hire could be made as quickly as within two weeks. In order to get the ball rolling, then, they must start to reach out to potential candidates and line them up for interviews. Well, that process has begun.
We have written about the Lakers deliberating on Byron Scott’s future as head coach, but a decision has been made. Scott will not return to coach the Lakers for a third season. Per the team’s press release:
“We would like to thank Byron for his hard work, dedication and loyalty over the last two years, but have decided it is in the best interest of the organization to make a change at this time,” said General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
Unbeknownst to me (and many others, I’m assuming), the Lakers held team options on both the third and fourth years of Scott’s contract. This decision then, was made even easier since the team was not eating any salary and could start new next season with a choice to usher in a new era of Lakers’ basketball.
Per Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times, the Lakers will have a long list of candidates for their opening. The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the list will include Warriors’ assistant Luke Walton, Spurs’ assistant Ettore Messina, current ESPN analyst and former Knicks/Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy, and current UCONN head coach Kevin Ollie. That’s already a wide net of candidates, but I’m sure we’ll hear even more names over the coming days and weeks.
When I went about previewing the 2015-16 Lakers, I wrote mostly about the difficult balancing act the team was trying to accomplish with the roster which was constructed. Here is a sampling:
On a roster with a mix of young prospects who need development and capable veterans who play the same positions, how do they balance playing time? When trying to win as many games as possible, but also needing for young players to be able to play through mistakes to learn — sometimes at the expense of wins — how do they balance the different priorties? On a team with at least seven rotation players who do their best work with the ball in their hands, how do they balance touches?
As the season has transpired, however, a new variable has been thrown into the mix: Kobe Bryant announced he would retire. While it was pretty much assumed this would be Kobe’s last year, him putting it on the record in the manner he did shifted the discussion and caused a recalibration of what this year would be about.
We all knew this day was coming. From the minute Kobe started talking about basketball as work rather than the steps along the way to being great, I knew we were closer than he was letting on. As soon as he started to talk about “if my mind changes“, I knew we were closer still. And so, on a Sunday afternoon a few hours before an early evening match up against the Pacers, Kobe made clear what we all were seeing through the previously murky messages.
His body could give no more; this season would be his last.
While the emotions swirled in me, to be honest, I smiled a little.
Up through Tuesday’s practice, Byron Scott was noncommittal on D’Angelo Russell starting in the Lakers’ season opener. He didn’t give reasons, but expressed he’d yet to make up his mind on the matter. I, for one, didn’t really believe that with it the day before the game, having seen Russell for an entire summer league and training camp, and knowing how the rest of the roster fit together.
But that was Byron’s story and he was sticking to it. Fine, no problem. We would get final word today, the day of the game, and that would be that. Well, guess what? D’Angelo Russell is starting.
We have known for some time the Lakers’ final cut would come down to Metta World Peace or Jabari Brown. I discussed who I thought the final cut would be, but that was only speculation. Today is the deadline to make the actual move and, per Shams Charania, the decision has been made.
Yesterday I had a pretty pessimistic take on Kobe Bryant playing in Wednesday’s season opener. After it was revealed he’d again not practiced, opting instead to “get some shots up” and receive treatment there seemed to be too little progress made in the last 10 days for me to feel comfortable about him being available in three days.
Well, Sunday proved to be a big step forward for Kobe and, it seems, for him being available for the season’s first game.