How Mike Krzyzewski is helping Lakers head coaching search

Tony Nguyen | Los Angeles Lakers
May 15, 2024

A surprising figure is reportedly assisting the Los Angeles Lakers in their search for a head coach: former Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski. And that news could possibly be a welcome sign for those who hope longtime NBA player JJ Redick lands the Lakers job this offseason.

Krzyzewski, commonly referred to as “Coach K,” spent more than 40 years as the head coach of Duke’s men’s basketball team, with which he won five national championships and reached the Final Four 13 times. He coached many great players in his time with the Blue Devils, and one of the best was JJ Redick, who was named 2006 national player of the year and was a two-time All-American in his four years playing for Krzyzewski.

Nowadays, Krzyzewski is retired and Redick has parlayed a 15-year NBA career into a very successful broadcasting and podcasting career. Of particular note is the fact that Redick began co-hosting a podcast, “Mind the Game,” with Lakers star LeBron James this season. And recently, Redick’s name has been at the forefront of the Charlotte Hornets and Lakers’ head coaching searches, which makes Krzyzewski’s reported involvement in the process more interesting.

“Multiple sources briefed on the matter say one person who has become a respected unofficial resource for the Lakers during the process is ​​legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose deep knowledge for candidates, such as Redick and others, provides a lens into the culture the organization wants and the characteristics of a potential staff around the next head coach,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Jovan Buha reported. “Krzyzewski’s history with the Lakers goes back to 2004 when Dr. Jerry Buss made a strong yet unsuccessful offer to hire Coach K.”

In the same article, Charania and Buha reported that the Lakers are beginning to contact and interview coaching candidates this week, including Redick, former Hornets head coach James Borrego, and Boston Celtics assistant coach Sam Cassell.

What does Coach K’s involvement in Lakers coaching search mean for JJ Redick?

Former Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski and former Duke basketball and NBA player JJ Redick

While Mike Krzyzewski has a long history with JJ Redick, he also has a pretty extensive history with LeBron James. Although James did not play college basketball and even said that he would not have chosen Duke if he had decided to play in the NCAA, he has since expressed on multiple occasions admiration and respect for Krzyzewski, who coached James and Team USA to Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

Krzyzewski being involved in the decision-making process would seem to be a plus for Redick, who played four years for Krzyzewski at Duke and has expressed a desire to be a coach in the NBA. But Redick has a rather clear disadvantage when compared to the likes of James Borrego and Sam Cassell: experience. While Borrego has coached in either college or the NBA for more than 20 years and Cassell began his coaching career immediately after retiring from the NBA in 2009, the only coaching credentials Redick has to his name is that he has coached his son’s youth basketball team.

With Mike Budenholzer signing with the Phoenix Suns and Tyronn Lue still under contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers’ options with championship experience are relatively slim. Borrego won two NBA titles as a San Antonio Spurs assistant coach (one in 2007 vs. LeBron and the Cavaliers) and Cassell won three championships during his playing days. Kenny Atkinson, also reported to be a candidate for the job, won a title as a Golden State Warriors in 2022 and previously served as the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach.