It won’t matter whom the Lakers hire as head coach, they’ll find a way to screw it up

It won’t matter whom the Lakers hire as head coach, they’ll find a way to screw it up


Some possible options (from l.): Kenny Atkinson, Darvin Ham, Terry Stotts

Some possible options (from l.): Kenny Atkinson, Darvin Ham, Terry Stotts
Illustration: Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are currently searching for a new head coach. Once they settle on a candidate, this will be the Lakers’ sixth full-time head coach since 2012. That’s shocking for a franchise that has won as much as the Lakers have in their history. But this coaching search feels destined for failure.

Reported finalists are Kenny Atkinson, Terry Stotts, and Darvin Ham. Other names linked to the Lakers job have been Mark Jackson, Quin Snyder, and Nick Nurse. Doc Rivers’ name has even been mentioned as a person of interest. Snyder, Nurse, and Rivers are all under contract with their current NBA employers for at least another year. But that won’t stop L.A. from having a wish list.

This next hire won’t change much in Los Angeles, short of bringing Phil Jackson back to the sideline (which will never happen while LeBron is there) or luring Gregg Popovich away from San Antonio. Frank Vogel shouldn’t have been ousted, but we know that coaches get bounced before players in the NBA. Once the team traded for Russell Westbrook, it was a losing proposition. Couple that with bringing in the senior’s tour to fill out the roster, and here we are.

Vogel was the only person that could be blamed publicly and sent packing. But not many people believe Vogel is the guy that deserves the blame. Jeanie Buss owns the team, Rob Pelinka is the general manager and has ties to Kobe Bryant, and then, of course, there’s King James. We can assign him all the blame in the world, but he won’t accept it. Vogel was the oddball booted out of this scenario. The scapegoat.

And no one knows right now what this roster will look like at the start of next season. But if L.A. intends on running it back, I’d pull myself from consideration if I were any of these reported finalists. James is great, we know what he brings to the table, but he can’t carry teams as he did in his prime. Anthony Davis is just 29 years old, but his body is closer to 50. This dude can’t stay on the court for more than two months consecutively. And Westbrook is going to be Westbrook. This mix didn’t work this season, and it won’t work next season.

If I’m taking a guess at the Lakers’ hire among the possible choices we know of, I’d say they are likely to with Stotts. He had some success in Portland, taking that team to the playoffs eight of his nine years running that ship. But I don’t think Stotts changes life for the Lakers with their current core in place.

I think it’ll be Stotts since Rivers, Snyder, and Nurse would be tougher to get. Stotts isn’t currently held back by any team, and he’s got more experience as a head coach than Atkinson or Ham. Atkinson would be great for a team with young developing talent like he was in Brooklyn before Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant took over.

I would love to see Ham finally get his opportunity as a head coach. Ham’s paid his coaching dues for a decade now and would do just as well as anyone else the Lakers are considering. But he would have James, which is an advantage for any head coach. And Ham began his coaching career as an assistant with the Lakers back in 2011. So, it’d be nice to watch things come full circle for him.

Honestly, it won’t matter much who L.A. hires if it can’t figure out how to reconfigure this roster. The team is too old, and James paired with Westbrook isn’t a great fit. They tried, but it didn’t work. Now it’s time to move on. Time to ship Russ out and get what you can for him. At this point, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. It’s time to fix it.

Ultimately, this will all amount to nothing for the Lakers. Whomever they bring in to coach this team will likely be doomed to fail. And the Lakers will return next season with much of the same roster expecting a different outcome. Buss might as well anoint LeBron as player-coach of the team. Most people believe he’s running the show already anyway.



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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.