Lakers’ 3 leading head coaching candidates emerge

Tony Nguyen | Los Angeles Lakers
May 14, 2024

The Los Angeles Lakers are beginning to ramp up their search for a new head coach. After parting ways with Darvin Ham following a 90-74 record over the last two seasons and an appearance in the 2023 Western Conference Finals, the Lakers are in a position where they must solidify their future with a coach who can take this franchise back to being a championship contender. The Lakers are contacting and scheduling interviews with candidates this week, as JJ Redick, James Borrego, and Sam Cassell have emerged as the initial leading targets, according to The Athletic.

Redick has long been connected to the Lakers and LeBron James, ever since the franchise made the decision to fire Ham. In addition to hosting his The Old Man and the Three podcast and doing broadcasting work with ESPN, the former NBA sharpshooter recently started a podcast with James called Mind the Game. This has led to rampant speculation that LeBron has been grooming Redick to become the next head coach of his team.

Borrego and Cassell are each well-respected, experienced assistant coaches that would bring a plethora of experience with them to Los Angeles. Whereas Borrego has experience as the head coach of the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets in the past, Cassell has served as an assistant coach in the league since 2009 for the Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Boston Celtics this season. Borrego has gone 109-140 all-time as a head coach in the league.

The first order of business for whoever takes over the reigns for the Lakers will be finding ways to win right away, with LeBron and Anthony Davis as the focal points of the franchise. With James nearing the end of his career, the Lakers are looking for a head coach who is able to not only put the team in a position to succeed right now at the highest level possible but also move forward into the years after James retires, with Davis being their focal point.

The Lakers will hold an initial round of coaching interviews with candidates the franchise has not previously vetted before progressing to the next phase of their search, according to The Athletic.

Interestingly enough, the Lakers are using legendary Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski as an unofficial resource during their head coaching search. Krzyzewski, who coached at Duke for 42 seasons before retiring in 2022, knows several of the candidates well. In 2004, Dr. Jerry Buss made a push to sign Krzyzewski as the organization’s next head coach. These attempts failed.

Along with Redick, Borrego, and Cassell, several other assistant coaches around the league are in the mix for the Lakers head coaching vacancy.

Lakers’ coaching search

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reacts during the second half in game three of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Arena.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The main goal the Lakers have as they begin their formal search for a new head coach to get to know the assistants and former head coaches that they have not gathered a ton of information about. From there, they will begin narrowing down their search to just a few names until they make a decision on who their next coach will be. While Redick, Borrego, and Cassell have emerged as the top names early on, there are a slew of other worthy assistants that have been linked to the Lakers in recent reports.

Miami Heat assistant Chris Quinn and Denver Nuggets assistant David Adelman have promptly been named candidates in Los Angeles. Both assistant coaches have interviewed for previous head coaching vacancies around the league and are considered to be among the best assistants.

Golden State Warriors assistant and former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is also another name the Lakers will begin gathering more information on in the coming days. Dallas Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney and Minnesota Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori are two other candidates who could receive interviews with the Lakers.

Of course, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue has also been a main focus of the Lakers since firing Ham. However, all indications point towards Lue remaining with the Clippers.

A decision on who the next head coach will be could come from the Lakers before the 2024 NBA Draft, which will begin on June 26. Executive Rob Pelinka and the Lakers’ leadership will begin meeting with and talking to candidates over the next several days.