Lakers’ LeBron James, Hornets’ LaMelo Ball Want Same Head Coach: Report

Lakers star LeBron James hugs LaMelo Ball

Getty Lakers star LeBron James hugs Hornets guard LaMelo Ball

The Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Hornets need new head coaches and LeBron James and LaMelo Ball may want the same guy.

According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, both James and Ball are interested in being coached by Mark Jackson.

“Jackson is popular among many active players, perhaps because of his visibility as a color commentator for ESPN or his status as a former All-Star and the 1987-88 Rookie of the Year,” Fischer reported. “LeBron James is known to have interest in Jackson for the Los Angeles Lakers’ opening, as does LaMelo Ball with the Charlotte Hornets’ vacancy, sources said.”

Jackson coached the Golden State Warriors for three seasons. He went 121-109 in the regular season and 9-10 in the playoffs before being let go in the summer of 2014.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, James would be “very enthused” by the prospect of Jackson landing the Lakers job. However, James and Ball may not get their wish.

Kings Could Hire Jackson

According to Fischer, Jackson could be hired by the Sacramento Kings. Kings chairman Vivek Ranadive is a huge fan of Jackson, who played 1,296 NBA games with the New York KnicksLos Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets.

“But early indications during this round of interviews are that Jackson is the front-runner and Kings chairman Vivek Ranadive’s favorite to emerge as Sacramento’s replacement for interim head coach Alvin Gentry, league sources told B/R,” Fischer reported. “Jackson has long been a darling of Ranadive, who was vice chairman of Golden State when Jackson piloted the upstart playoff contender in the early stages of the Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green era. In 2020, Ranadive urged the Sacramento front office to consider Jackson for the associate head coach position that went to Gentry, sources said.”

Jackson won the 1987-88 Rookie of the Year Award and the assists title in 1996-97. He finished his NBA career with averages of 9.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 8.0 assists and is fifth in NBA history in assists.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Lakers have already requested permission to interview Darvin Ham, who is currently an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks. The purple and gold could take the most patient approach in finding a new head coach since the franchise has to find someone who will mesh with James and Anthony Davis, two of the best players in the NBA.

James Has to like Lakers’ New Coach

According to Marc Stein of Substack, the Lakers’ search for Frank Vogel’s successor is “widely expected to move slower than most” because the franchise needs to find an established coach who can win James’ buy-in.

Thus far, Los Angeles has been linked to Nick Nurse, Quin Snyder, Ham and Jackson.

James becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2023 if he doesn’t sign an extension this offseason. According to Amick, the King is considering playing out his present contract.

“Based on my conversations with people who have a strong sense of such things, it’s clear James is considering playing out this contract rather than signing a two-year extension this summer,” Amick reported. “If flexibility and freedom are the goals here, James (who is owed $44.4 million next season) could go back to the year-by-year approach he perfected in his second Cleveland stop.”

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