Reports coming in from several media houses indicate Los Angeles Lakers are on the brink of hiring Tyronn Lue as the team’s new Head Coach. Due to the dismissal of immediate past Coach Luke Walton, the Lakers franchise won’t be haggled with another controversy following rape allegations that have been leveled against Walton.
That would have been too much to bear for a team that created a circus from the botched Anthony Davis trade midway through the season. Team President Magic Johnson surprised everyone including star player LeBron James by announcing his sudden retirement from the position. Clearly defined duties are yet to be handed out to Linda Rambis, Kurt Rambis and principal owner Jeanie Buss’ brothers.
There is also the issue of finding Walton’s replacement in the Head Coach seat as a bevy of names have popped up. Former Golden State Warriors Coach Mark Jackson, former Milwaukee Bucks Coach Jason Kidd, former New Orleans Pelicans Coach Monty Williams and former Cleveland Cavaliers Coach Tyronn Lue were the top favorites.
However, Lue is very likely to land the job and this would reunite him with LeBron after winning the NBA title together in 2016.
Jackson did the ground work for Golden State’s march into a dynasty; while Kidd’s reputation from stints at Brooklyn Nets and Bucks isn’t the best, he played a key role in transforming Giannis Antetokounmpo into a do it all Center by moving him to the Point Guard position.
Williams has a good reputation in the league as a “Players Coach” who took himself out of the race by signing a multiyear deal with Phoenix Suns. Williams set Pelicans up right for the future leading a very young Anthony Davis to the playoffs plus Williams has a relationship with LeBron James after spending time together at Team USA.
Lue is the only candidate with a title on his CV but his hire is far from the best for the Lakers. Despite having a title winning season on his portfolio, Lue played a role in the strangest play ever in the history of basketball in last season’s Finals series. Wielding a timeout in the final seconds, Lue failed to call it before George Hill missed a free throw against the Warriors. JR Smith gathered the rebound and dribbled the ball towards his basket and failed to get his shot off in time when he realized he chose the wrong option.
Fast forward, Golden State clinch its second straight title and third in four years via a sweep. This was the same guy who cost LeBron his fourth championship and another serious hit in his validation as the greatest player ever. Lakers can’t entrust its hopes of a return to the playoffs after a six year absence to a man who got his biggest moment by riding on the back of James and Kyrie Irving’s historic run.
Additionally, Lue’s short stint as a Head Coach is laced with veteran rosters and very little with regard to young players. The Lakers roster is the complete opposite of what he is used to with a healthy chunk of the roster filled with young players. Alex Caruso, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Moritz Wagner and Kyle Kuzma aren’t Kyrie, Kevin Love, Smith, Tristan Thompson or Channing Frye. Unfortunately, the Lakers aren’t in the best shape to sign any top free agents in the market meaning Lue will have to depend more on the young players to churn out results after the major disappointment last season.
Kidd qualified a flawed and young Bucks team to the playoffs, Jackson got Warriors in the playoffs in two straight seasons in Klay Thompson’s second season and New Orleans played Golden State in the 2015 playoffs with a 21 year old Davis. Lastly, the Lakers were never the same after what virtually all young players on the team were deemed expendable to facilitate a trade for Davis to appease LeBron. Such perceived moves distanced the young group from the team’s ambitions derailing Lakers plans for a playoff run.
Bringing in Lue who is very close to James would further alienate them from the team’s plans for next season. Decisions from the Coach are likely to be viewed as moves designed to please LeBron which is a bad starting point even before new season starts. Its a bit too late to stay away from hiring Lue as things stand but the Lakers are heading down the wrong path.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter