It is the general practice in NBA coaching searches that teams will interview candidates and ask them a number of questions. But as regards the openings with the Lakers, Sacramento and Charlotte, the interviewees may be doing more of the asking — particularly in the case of the first two.
While the Hornets’ position is not seen as ideal for someone hoping to contend very soon, the situations with L.A. and the Kings are quagmires of varying sorts.
When the position opens with a high-status team like the Lakers, it’s traditionally expected the club already has its candidate in waiting. And that may be the case following the firing of Frank Vogel if, in fact, L.A. is prepared to put a full-court press on Doc Rivers when the Sixers’ season ends.
A source who’s been intermittently involved in that process was asked if Rivers is the reason the Lakers haven’t yet made a move and said, “I think there’s a good chance that’s what it is, but, you know, that’s a different group of people you’re talking about there. From what I’m seeing so far, it’s hard to tell what they’re going to do — or what they’re doing.”
Would Rivers, ex of the Clippers, like to be back in Los Angeles? That sounds possible.
Would he want to try to wrangle that mismatched roster while dealing with a front office that speaks with many voices? That’s harder to imagine.
And there’s the small matter of Rivers, you know, ALREADY HAVING A JOB.
Is Rivers Not a Fit in Philly?
However, a number of league sources continue to doubt whether Rivers and Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey are a good long-term fit. Remember, Doc was hired a month before Morey in 2020, and people in the latter position usually like to hire their own head coach.
But one league source preached caution.
“I tell you one thing, Daryl better be careful,” he told Heavy.com. “I’ve heard from people there that (Joel) Embiid really loves playing for Doc, so Daryl better be careful with that. He’s a James Harden lover, and, hey, maybe James can get back to the level he was in Houston, but it’s a hard way to go and he’s certainly not close to that right now.”
Kings Gig a Tough Sell
Meanwhile, in Sacramento, the Kings are certainly not close to being close right now.
The Sacramentites just completed their 16th consecutive year without a playoff appearance. The 2006 first round exit was 12 head coaches ago.
According to a league source, owner Vivek Ranadive favors former Golden State coach and current TV color commentator Mark Jackson, while others in the organization would like Warriors assistant Mike Brown. But those two and others could think twice about taking on the task.
Said one NBA coaching source, “That’s a tough job, man.”
It’s not as difficult a road in Charlotte, where now-dismissed James Borrego led the club to a 43-39 record and the 10th in the East, but, alas, another bad play-in loss. That’s six straight years without an appearance in the actual playoffs.
And the city’s team hasn’t made it out of the first round since 2002, the last season of the old Charlotte Hornets, who have since mailed the nickname back to North Carolina and morphed into the Pelicans.
“I think James did a really good job there, but they got burned by some injuries,” said a league source.
“The question is whether they’re ever going to be able to get out of that middle ground. But it could be a great job for a coach wanting to establish his credentials.”