What the Lakers are looking for in next head coach, revealed

Tony Nguyen | Los Angeles Lakers
May 14, 2024

The search for a new head coach is currently underway for the Los Angeles Lakers. Arguably the biggest part of their offseason, the Purple and Gold’s task stems right after the organization decided to part ways with Darvin Ham. Now, it looks like the Lakers are set to reach out to potential candidates. But what is the team currently looking for in their next head coach? According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka frequently uses the term “grinder” to describe an important characteristic that the next coach should have. Pelinka brings up the term during his conversations with various league officials, sources say.

When someone is described as a “grinder,” it usually means that person manages to bring about success through hard work and determination, rather than skill alone. This isn’t to imply that Ham did not put in the work. After all, he did manage to steer the Lakers to the playoffs in his two seasons. Still, it looks like Pelinka possibly wants to usher in a different culture to Hollywood’s favorite team.

So what would a “grinder” bring to the Lakers?

Thinking about the term “grinder,” teams such as the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks come to mind. The Heat dominated the East in the past few years with their so-called “hidden gems” — undrafted players that used to make up their core lineup. As for the Knicks, look no further than their current squad’s tenacity on the boards. Despite the team’s undersized lineup, Josh Hart and Co. have been one of the scrappiest teams as of late. One can even throw the Minnesota Timberwolves in that mix, judging by that league-leading defense.

Going back to the Lakers, is this the culture Rob Pelinka wants? Does he want a coach that can instill a blue-collar style of basketball in the bright lights of the Crypto.com Arena? Possibly. The Lakers have never been labeled as such. Just look at that 80s team with Magic Johnson, dubbed the “Showtime Lakers.” The label speaks for itself. While LA did have their fair share of players known for their incredible work ethic (i.e Kobe Bryant), as a team, the Purple and Gold were always seen as the West Coast’s lavish team — rooted for by celebrities with players embracing the luxuriant lifestyle.

And to add, bringing in a different brand of basketball isn’t easy for any team. All the players have to be 100% committed to the process. If a coach wants to change the culture, then he’ll have to win the locker room first. But then again, it’s not impossible. Who knows? The Lakers might just be a very different team in the years to come.

To end, this is all just speculation, based on a word that’s supposedly used by the GM in his discussions. Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see who Pelinka will bring in as the new coach.