The Los Angeles Lakers are looking for a new head coach after they fired the 2020 championship-winning coach Frank Vogel soon after the end of the regular season. The Lakers failed to qualify for the postseason and had a disappointing record of 33-49. The LA front office is keenly working in the background to look for a good coach who could lead them to another championship win with LeBron James. While a lot of coaches would be itching to get the head coach’s position at the Lakers, one of LeBron’s buddies has recently turned down the opportunity.
As per Adrian Wojnarowski, not every coach in the league is willing to be a part of the rebuilding phase of the Lakers. Recently, Michigan’s head coach Juan Howards was requested by the LA front office to come in for an interview for the coaching position. However, the highly-rated college coach has declined the offer as he would not want to risk his reputation by putting all his money on the struggling Lakers. The franchise is dealing with a number of issues currently with a string of aging stars who have failed to work together on the court.
Once LA finalizes the coach, they will have a huge task of deciding Russell Westbrook’s future with the franchise. Given his upcoming payment of $47 million as per his contract and his inconsistent play this season, the new head coach would have to find a way to trade Westbrook somehow in order to have the financial stability to rebuild.
Howard’s Ties With LeBron James & Rob Pelinka
Juwan has been LeBron James’ teammate at the Miami Heat in the past. Thus, LeBron must have been aware of his team’s interest in Juwan. However, the King would not have expected Howards to turn down the offer. Howard also had a close relationship with the Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka. The duo played together during their college days in Michigan.
Howards had been the assistant coach in Miami for six years before he took the head coach’s position in Michigan. Thus, the coach has some NBA experience. However, it was not the first time Howard rejected the coaching offer from other teams. Last year, the Boston Celtics tried to interview Juwan, but he rejected the chance. The Celtics’ president, Brad Stevens, wanted to hire Howard for the coaching position. However, the Michigan coach declined the offer, and the Celtics moved on to Brooklyn Nets’ assistant Ime Udoka.
Does LeBron James Have A Coaching Preference?
LeBron James had been rumored to prefer former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson as the Lakers’ new coach. However, it looks like LeBron agrees to the three-man shortlist of candidates. Reports suggest that the Lakers are trying to get Darvin Ham and James is happy with the decision. However, Ham lacks head coaching experience in NBA. The 48-year-old has worked well with Milwaukee Bucks and helped shape Giannis Anrekukoumpo during their first run together.
But unfortunately, the Lakers are unlikely to put their money on LeBron’s wishes. His tenure with the franchise is also going to end in 2023. The King is in the last year of his contract. And the Lakers would want a long-term coach on their team. As the postseason approaches a close, the Lakers will need to decide soon. Moreover, the new coach will have to start working with the front office immediately in order to rebuild the roster and help the Lakers get back on top of the Western Conference.