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Saturday, June 8, 2024

JJ Redick could be dodging a significant bullet if the Lakers rent Dan Hurley as their coach

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The Los Angeles Lakers are, above all else, star-chasers. That is franchise whose core philosophy as a rule boils all the way down to touchdown the massive fish and figuring the remainder out later. For the higher a part of 60 years, that philosophy has labored, and that success has knowledgeable future decision-making. 

That a lot was evident in the best way that they performed their teaching search, which now seems to be culminating with an Eleventh-hour pursuit of two-time defending NCAA champion Dan Hurley, however was equally evident in the best way that they positioned their different high candidate, ESPN broadcaster JJ Redick

Redick is a giant identify in his personal proper, with a 15-year enjoying profession and really profitable early run within the media, however he lacks Hurley’s readymade teaching credentials. Earlier than Hurley was seemingly on the desk, the entire reporting urged that the Lakers did not consider Redick wanted such a resume. In Might, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Jovan Buha reported that the Lakers view Redick as a “Pat Riley-like teaching prospect.”

There are, after all, surface-level similarities between Riley, arguably the best Lakers coach of all of them, and Redick, a promising newcomer with no expertise. Each have been adorned faculty stars at main applications earlier than settling into NBA careers as position gamers. Each transitioned from enjoying into broadcasting—although Riley was a championship assistant earlier than ascending right into a head teaching position.

That final caveat is essential, because the Redick-Riley similarities, at this stage, actually are simply floor degree. Redick, given time to develop into teaching as Riley did when he was an assistant, may sooner or later turn out to be an excellent coach. Sadly, new coaches aren’t afforded that point once they draw comparisons to Corridor of Famers. And it is not time the Lakers have a tendency to provide any of their coaches. Whoever they rent on this cycle would be the seventh Lakers coach since Phil Jackson retired in 2011. Frank Vogel was fired two years after a championship. Darvin Ham was fired one yr after a Western Convention finals berth. Something lower than important and sustained successful in Los Angeles places coaches on the new seat. 

And first-time coaches, as Ham discovered firsthand, aren’t completed merchandise. We’re seeing this play out within the present postseason. Jason Kidd spent one yr with the Brooklyn Nets, tried a coup for entrance workplace energy, failed, and fled to Milwaukee in response. He received a lot mistaken as head coach of the Bucks that when Mike Budenholzer took over, he instantly improved the staff’s document by 16 video games by means of some pretty primary tweaks. 

Now, Kidd has taken the Dallas Mavericks to the Finals. Joe Mazzulla practically received there a yr in the past. When the Boston Celtics misplaced the Jap Convention Finals to the Miami Warmth, he was the favored scapegoat. The Celtics held agency. He could effectively win the championship this season. Even Riley-level teaching prospects want correct seasoning. 

Redick might need gotten the time he wanted with Toronto or Charlotte, two different jobs he is interviewed for. It in all probability would not occur with the Lakers, and getting fired by such a high-profile staff might influence his future profession prospects irrevocably. Ham is just not identified to have interviewed for any head teaching jobs since getting axed by Los Angeles. He was a well-liked goal earlier than taking the job. In that sense, doubtlessly dropping the job to Hurley is likely to be a blessing in disguise for Redick. In reality, given the disconnect between notion and actuality that the Lakers are dealing with proper now, he may simply be dodging the bullet that will have killed his teaching profession.

Here is one other surface-level connection between Redick and Riley: when Riley took over the Lakers in 1981, he inherited a staff that had already gained a championship led by a fringe star (Magic Johnson) and a dominant huge man (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). Technically, the subsequent coach of the Lakers shall be inheriting the identical state of affairs. 

The Lakers gained the championship in 2020. Their perimeter star, LeBron James, remains to be in place. Their inside star, Anthony Davis, remains to be in place. The quick expectation for the Lakers won’t be championship or bust, however they fired Ham as a result of a single first-round exit (and the underwhelming common season that led as much as it) was seen as a big disappointment. The Lakers won’t have a path to something higher any time quickly, and setting larger expectations for any new coach means setting them up for failure.

It could appear onerous to consider, however Davis is getting into his thirteenth NBA season. Abdul-Jabbar was in his thirteenth NBA season when Riley took over. Johnson was in his third. James is in his twenty second. James and Davis mixed to play 147 video games final season, and the Lakers nonetheless solely gained 47 video games. They averaged 103.5 mixed video games within the earlier two seasons. If the James and Davis duo regress to the imply, 47 wins turns into 40, or maybe even the 33 they gained in the course of the 2021-22 season, fairly shortly. Laker lineups that includes James and Davis outscored opponents by 4.6 factors per 100 possessions final season, in response to Cleansing the Glass. Take away James and all of the sudden the Lakers get outscored by 0.2 factors per 100 possessions. With out each? The Lakers get outscored by 13.2 factors per 100 possessions.

They may fortify the roster on the commerce market. The Lakers have three first-round picks to dangle for both a 3rd star or position gamers, and even have pathways of dangling different draft belongings (swaps, seconds, protected parts of already-outgoing picks) in the event that they actually need to. The difficulty they’re dealing with within the short-term is that including anybody of be aware will imply sending another person significant out of their place. The Lakers are pretty restricted by way of matching wage in the meanwhile. 

D’Angelo Russell has a participant choice. If he declines it, the Lakers cannot commerce him (barring an unlikely sign-and-trade situation). Austin Reaves is underpaid. Gabe Vincent and Jarred Vanderbilt are each hovering round $11 million in wage, however after lacking most of final season attributable to damage, haven’t got a lot commerce worth in the meanwhile. The Lakers turned final season round once they moved Rui Hachimura into the beginning lineup. Buying and selling his $17 million wage is likely to be needed, however it will be painful.

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Flip a handful of these gamers into, say, Trae Younger, Darius Garland or Donovan Mitchell, and the brand new, restrictive collective bargaining settlement prevents you from paying for a supporting solid round your new three-headed monster. Break up these belongings into a number of new position gamers and also you all of the sudden lack the star energy to remain afloat if James or Davis has an prolonged absence. The Lakers are 55-64 with out Davis since buying him in 2019. They’re 50-72 with out James since he signed in 2018. There isn’t any apparent, short-term reply to this staff’s woes. Even when they discover one, it will in all probability value them nearly all of their future draft capital. Would you wish to coach a staff constructed round a soon-to-be 40-year-old with out future picks to fall again on?

So, say the Lakers take the lengthy view. They maintain onto their picks, permit James and Davis to slowly age out of stardom and resolve to rebuild the quaint manner after they’re gone. That is in all probability the staff’s finest long-term path, in need of shifting James and Davis now, but it surely’s one that will contain an entire lot of dropping. 

Check out the Western Convention. Virtually each staff that made the playoffs this season figures to be roughly pretty much as good or higher subsequent yr aside from the Clippers, who may lose Paul George. The Grizzlies, the convention’s No. 2 seed in back-to-back seasons, shall be again to full power. The Rockets wish to begin successful. The Spurs might begin successful the second they resolve to aggressively pursue veteran upgrades.

At a sure level, a convention simply runs out of playoff spots. If the Lakers could not escape the Play-In spherical with James and Davis youthful and more healthy than they’ll ever be, what does their future seem like when these two are older and banged up in a deeper convention? Not nice. A coach may have the ability to survive just a few down years with an ageing core. He may have the ability to survive the few down years that come afterward, when the entrance workplace transitions to a youth motion and begins to rebuild by means of the draft. It’s uncommon for a coach and not using a prolonged historical past of successful to outlive each.

Redick really is likely to be a Riley-level teaching candidate. His work as a broadcaster has drawn widespread reward. He clearly understands the ideas that result in successful within the fashionable NBA. His preexisting relationship with James by means of their Thoughts the Sport podcast signifies a level of buy-in from a famous person that many first-year coaches do not get. Someday, Redick will virtually definitely be a head coach. Beneath the appropriate circumstances, he may very well be an excellent one.

However that is the key to Riley-level teaching careers. It is virtually all the time circumstance. What if it hadn’t been the Lakers that had employed Riley as an assistant in 1979? What if his teaching profession had begun with a extra conventional staff, the place he did not have Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar in place? Would he have lasted lengthy sufficient to show that he was the teaching large he would sooner or later turn out to be? 

This train works for virtually each teaching legend. Jerry Krause, the overall supervisor who held the keys to Michael Jordan’s prime, plucked Phil Jackson out of the Puerto Rican league to function an assistant below Doug Collins. What if, as an alternative of Krause, the overall supervisor of a lesser staff had given him that very same probability? What if Gregg Popovich hadn’t gained the Tim Duncan lottery? What if Steve Kerr had taken the Knicks job Jackson supplied to him as an alternative of the identical place with Golden State? The place would Mazzulla be proper now if Ime Udoka hadn’t been suspended?

The reality of most nice coaches is that they’re made, not born. There are not any Riley-level teaching prospects as a result of no coach can predictably land within the circumstances that allowed Riley to flourish so shortly. Redick might have Riley’s basketball acumen and his pressure of character and each different trait that made him one of many best coaches of all time and it would not matter if he took over a staff that could not keep wholesome, or could not purchase the appropriate gamers, or could not do any of the opposite dozens of issues it takes to compete for NBA championships in time to guard his long-term job safety.

All of this stuff apply to Hurley on some degree. Here is the distinction: if Hurley fails within the NBA, he instantly turns into the most well liked head coach on the school market. That is what successful two nationwide championships does for you. He’d be risking little or no by taking any NBA job. That is all reward for him.

However Redick has no teaching expertise on the collegiate or skilled degree. If he lands the Lakers job and it goes south, he has no prior teaching expertise to fall again on. His total resume turns into one misfire. As soon as you have been fired from the primary job, it turns into considerably tougher to land the second. 

Redick could sooner or later have Hurley’s star energy. He may finally develop into the form of coach that might anticipate to instantly turn out to be a candidate for different fascinating jobs if his present place would not pan out. However now, earlier than he is taken a single job, it is in all probability in his finest pursuits to search for one that may afford him the time and house he’ll virtually definitely have to develop into the form of coach the Lakers seemingly believed he can sooner or later turn out to be.

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