Sports Out West

Lakers shift focus to head coach search

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Ut

With the seventh spot now solidified in this year’s draft, the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office has shifted their focus to finding the franchise’s next head coach, according to Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Los Angeles have already begun the process earlier this week as they have  interviewed Mike Dunleavy Sr., who has coached the  Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers in his 17 years in the NBA, and on Tuesday morning the team spoke with Byron Scott, who coached the then-New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets along with playing 11 seasons with the Lakers.

It is a process that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak sees taking at least a couple of weeks to complete.

“I’m sure names will come out in the next couple of days, but we’ve started our process and we intend to continue the process in terms of talking to potential coaches. Whether they’re informal or formal interviews, we’ll do both,” Kupchak said Wednesday. “I would not anticipate hiring a coach in the next two to three weeks, but we’ll interview several, more than three to four probably … we have begun.”

Since Mike D’Antoni resigned on April 30, Kupchak has kept a firm stance that the team would sit pat in their head coach search until after the NBA Draft Lottery this past Tuesday that saw the Lakers fall a spot to seventh overall. Last Monday, he stated that the player the team picked in the draft could play a part in the team decision on who the next hire would be.

As for potential candidates, Kupchak stated on Wednesday that he would not rule out possibly going after a coach that is currently employed by another team at this point in time, which could put in play the Lakers pursuing Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.

“Why wouldn’t it be a possibility? We don’t have a timeline,” Kupchak said. “If we had a timeline for tomorrow or Friday or the weekend, then I would say that’s remote, but this is going to go on at least two to three weeks. I’m not anticipating [hiring a current NBA head coach] being a part of the process, but we’ll just monitor how it plays out with the teams that are out there and see what the playing field provides and make decisions accordingly.”

Another name that has been thrown around over the past couple of weeks has been Oklahoma City guard Derek Fisher, who won five championships in 13 seasons with Los Angeles.  The New York Knicks have  also been rumored to have interest in hiring the 18-year veteran for their head coach vacancy as he has ties to Phil Jackson, who is his former coach and current president of basketball operations for the Knicks.

Other possible candidates linked to the Lakers’ opening have been former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson and former Memphis Grizzles coach Lionel Hollins. With that said, the team appears to be in no rush to find their next lead man as they will look to draft a player and fill out their roster before any decisions will be made.

“It will be a longer process for obvious reasons,” Kupchak said. “Our last hire really took less than a week in Mike D’Antoni. This process will be considerably longer for a bunch of different reasons. No. 1, we have more time. No. 2, we don’t really know what our team looks like, and there is no urgency right now, so it will be a more deliberate process.”

The Lakers know that their next hire will be an important one as the last two with D’Antoni and Mike Brown have not worked out. This along with Kobe Bryant under contract for the next two seasons makes that decision one that they must feel completely committed to as the right choice as there is a lot at stake with whoever is the next head coach.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Ut

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.