Barring a miraculous turnaround, all signs point to head coach Frank Vogel being the first person who receives the blame for the Los Angeles Lakers’ disappointing season. If the Lakers opt to fire Vogel this offseason, the next question is what coach the franchise can land to give the team a boost heading into 2022.
Jazz head coach Quinn Snyder has been linked to the likely Lakers vacancy, but Bleacher Report’s NBA insider Eric Pincus believes there are a few additional names to watch. One intriguing option is longtime NBA player and current Michigan head coach Juwan Howard given his ties to both Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and superstar LeBron James.
“There’s one other name to throw out, but I know that he’s got a couple kids in his program, but Juwan Howard who had, obviously, an incident in Michigan and then redeemed himself a little bit with a nice tournament run,” Pincus noted during the March 29, 2022 episode of the FnA Podcast. “…I think Juwan has ties to Pelinka. Well, I know he has ties to [Rob] Pelinka, they went to school together, played in college together.
“He’s got ties to LeBron. The Lakers interviewed him before they hired Vogel, and liked him I’ve heard. But he was green in the sense of experience from their eyes. He’d never been an NBA head coach, and I do think they’d prefer an experienced NBA head coach, but I think there’s enough there to say that Juwan is a possibility.
“But he’s got a second kid going to Michigan, you know, there’s something about family, similar to why LeBron might extend in L.A. that you say, ‘well, I don’t know if Juwan would leave that job.'”
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Howard Was Suspended for 5 Games After Striking a Wisconsin Assistant
Earlier this season, Howard was suspended five games and fined $40,000 for slapping Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft in the face during the postgame handshake line. Howard revealed that James “has been on of my biggest supporters” and reached out to the Michigan coach during his suspension.
“Bron has been one of my biggest supporters, like when I was out for that two weeks [suspension], you know, he reached out to me and let me know how much he supports me,” Howard said on the March 23 edition of “The Rich Eisen Show.” “And how he wants me to come out and be a better person from this and grow from this and that meant so much, man. Just to know that your brother is cheering you on and supporting you through tough times.”
Howard Led Michigan to Consecutive Sweet 16 & Elite 8 Runs During March Madness
Aside from the incident, Howard has had a successful coaching career at Michigan going 61-32 during his first three seasons which included two straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Michigan lost to Villanova in the Sweet 16 in 2022, and a suffered a two-point defeat to UCLA in the Elite 8 in 2021.
Howard also has an impressive resume as a player, both at Michigan and during his lengthy 19 NBA seasons. Howard averaged 13.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists during his NBA career. The former big man was named to the All-Star team during the 1995-96 season along with an All-NBA selection, the All-Rookie team in 1994-95 and is a two-time NBA champion.