Kenny Atkinson surpasses JJ Redick as betting favorite to be Lakers’ head coach

Tony Nguyen | Los Angeles Lakers
May 11, 2024

Last week, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers saw their 2023-24 season come to a crushing end with a loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Finals quarterfinals series, courtesy of a Jamal Murray jumper with just seconds remaining. It was the second time that Murray had buried the Lakers in the clutch, and James and his team are now faced with a highly important offseason for the future direction of the franchise.

Jeanie Buss, Rob Pelinka, and the rest of the Lakers brass have already been busy making moves so far, as the team has already fired the entire coaching staff from last year, including head coach Darvin Ham, now opening the door for the most high profile coaching search currently existing in the NBA landscape.

Since the team made the shocking move, several names have been thrown around as potential candidates for the next Lakers coach, including current Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue as well as LeBron James himself. However, the good folks over at the BetOnline Sportsbook have other ideas, as currently, former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is listed as the favorite to land the position with +100 odds. Right on Atkinson’s tail is podcaster JJ Redick at +200 odds. Interestingly enough, Redick recently launched the “Mind The Game” podcast with James himself, where the pair break down plays and other analyses from games that go beyond the cliches and narratives typically spewed in the national media regarding the NBA.

A complicated coaching tree

Kenny Atkinson and Darvin Ham both have similar origins in the NBA landscape, as both coached under former Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer during his time with that franchise in the early 2010s. Ham was also an assistant coach on Budenholzer’s Milwaukee Bucks squad that won the NBA championship in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season.

Interestingly enough, earlier today, Budenholzer was officially announced as the next head coach of the Phoenix Suns following that franchise’s dismissal of Frank Vogel after just one season.

Whoever does end up taking the position as the next person to patrol the sidelines in Los Angeles will have a lot to deal with, as perhaps no job in the NBA comes with more scrutiny than the Lakers’ coaching job, and there is a natural amount of pressure that derives from coaching arguably the smartest player in basketball history in LeBron James.

While it should be noted that the Lakers’ roster was probably not equipped to truly compete for a championship this season, there’s no denying that Darvin Ham and his staff didn’t come close to maximizing what they did have in the locker room, as puzzling lineup decisions and timeout selection doomed the Lakers on several occasions both during the regular season and the playoffs.

In any case, it’s likely that the Lakers will look to make their decision sooner rather than later so that whoever the next head coach ends up being will have the maximum amount of time available to begin preparing for the 2024-25 season, which is set to begin in October.