LeBron James’ resume is not missing much but could the superstar add the title of Los Angeles Lakers player-coach to his accomplishments? Fox Sports’ Ric Bucher detailed a text he received about a “wild” suggestion that went to Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss about James serving as the team’s player-coach with former NBA great Bill Laimbeer joining Los Angeles as an assistant. This would clearly follow the firing of current head coach Frank Vogel in the hypothetical scenario.
“Name another coach currently not employed that those players would listen to more than Frank [Vogel], that’s what made the text so interesting,” Bucher said on the On the Ball podcast. “What it said is that it has been suggested to Jeanie Buss, the Lakers governor and majority owner, that LeBron take over as player-coach with Bill Laimbeer coming over in as his second in command. For those who don’t know, Bill is a huge fan of LeBron’s. He has not been shy in saying he is clearly a better player than Michael Jordan. That will earn you a ton of points in the Klutch Agency camp, obviously.”
There is a major difference between a suggestion and something the Lakers will actually implement. Bucher added that there is an extremely low likelihood that the Lakers would make James a player-coach. What appears to be more clear is that the pressure is increasing on Vogel to jumpstart the team in the right direction.
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Could the Lakers Really Make LeBron a Player-Coach?
The idea of a player-coach was more prevalent in past NBA eras with greats like Lenny Wilkens and Bill Russell assuming the role. Wilkens served as a player-coach with the Sonics from 1969 to 1972 and for the 1974-75 season with the Blazers. More recently, Tree Rollins split time as the Magic’s backup center and an assistant coach during the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons. Bucher sees the Lakers revisiting this older NBA concept as “brainstorming.”
“I imagine this is one of those ideas just to see if Jeanie would bite and nothing more,” Bucher added. “You know, the what if, run it up the flagpole and see if anyone solutes conversations I’m sure you have with your friends. Well, NBA people have those kind of conversations, too. Call it brainstorming, 99% of the ideas tossed around never go beyond spitballing.
“I’m of the mind that this is in that camp. It’s intriguing only because it involves LeBron who seems to be forever looking for ways to distinguish himself with achievements Jordan can’t lay claim, too. Player-coach, the first since Lenny Wilkens if I’m not mistaken, would undoubtedly catch his attention.”
Vogel Is on the Hot Seat: Report
NBA insider Marc Stein reported that there is “pressure mounting” on Vogel to orchestrate a Lakers turnaround. The main reason Vogel is on the hot seat has a lot to do with the lack of roster moves the Lakers can potentially make under its current construction. Firing Vogel is the biggest change the Lakers have at their disposal.
“There is also rising buzz in coaching circles about the pressure mounting on Frank Vogel given the Lakers’ worrisome 10-10 start … given L.A.’s lack of flexibility to make roster changes,” Stein detailed on November 26.