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Lakers Rumors: Coaching Candidate Receives Lofty Comparison

Dec 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; The Los Angeles Lakers logo outside of Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers have begun interviewing various candidates for their vacant head coaching position, with names ranging from former players to experienced assistants. One of the more popular candidates is J.J. Redick, a 15-year veteran who is attempting to take an unconventional route into coaching.

Recent reporting from The Athletic revealed that Redick’s name has garnered more buzz in recent days, with team sources comparing him to one of the Lakers’ legendary coaches.

Lakers Rumors: Coaching Candidate Receives Lofty Comparison

J.J. Redick’s Comparison

Shams Charania wrote that, when it comes to potential, Redick was compared to former Lakers great Pat Riley.

Leaguewide, Redick — a former player and media analyst — has garnered buzz for the position. The Lakers are infatuated with Redick’s potential, according to league sources, viewing him as a Pat Riley-like coaching prospect who could both help the franchise in the short term and lead it for years. Riley, a nine-year NBA veteran as a player, was a broadcaster for the Lakers from 1977 to 1979 before making the leap to assistant coach in 1979 and then eventually head coach in 1981.

Considering their similar career trajectories so far, the Redick-Riley comparison is bold but reasonable, especially considering Redick’s rise in the sports media world between his podcasts and ESPN. The Lakers, however, are also placing a ton of pressure on Redick with this nod.

LA won the 1981 championship in Riley’s first season at the helm and took home the Larry O’Brien three times after that (1985, ‘87, and ‘88). Riley also accumulated three conference championships while leading the purple and gold, only missing the Finals in 1986 when LA lost to the Rockets in five games.

If things work out, Redick will likely be held to similar expectations, tasked with guiding an iconic franchise led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis back to championship glory sooner than later. Redick’s playing experience, high basketball knowledge, and familiarity with the Lakers indicate he could be ready for that challenge. However, fans are understandably worried with the idea of hiring another first-time coach—especially one with very limited experience.

LeBron and AD’s Involvement in Coaching Search

It’s worth noting that the Lakers’ next head coach must get a stamp of approval from Anthony Davis. The Lakers have previously desired a coach to bridge the gap between the James-Davis duo and a post-LeBron future, something that all of these candidates should be able to do. With Davis reportedly playing a role in the decision to fire Darvin Ham, it’s clear why he should have a voice in this decision as well.

On the other hand, James will reportedly not have any input on this next hire, a notable choice given his free agent status and his upcoming preparation for the Summer Olympics.

Aside from Redick, another name to watch is James Borrego. The former Hornets coach is the only candidate with head coaching experience. He also briefly coached Davis as an assistant in New Orleans. It’s another player-candidate tie to consider when looking at all of the Lakers’ options.

The Last Word

Given Redick’s partnership with James and his popularity across the league, it makes sense why he may be a frontrunner for the job. The player-turned-analyst’s potential, along with the Pat Riley comparisons, significantly help his case. However, more reports will emerge as the process moves along and the playoffs come to a close. While fans want a decision sooner than later, they shouldn’t jump to conclusions just yet.


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