Shaquille O’Neal Endorses Former All-Star Guard for Lakers Head Coaching Job

Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers

Purgatory, that’s where the Los Angeles Lakers currently find themselves, and they will remain there until they’ve hired a new head coach.

For all the rhetoric surrounding Russell Westbrook and potential roster upgrades, it’s unlikely any moves will be made until a new coach is instilled and their input on the current roster has been received.

However, there’s just as much speculation relating to potential coaching candidates as there is about landing spots for Westbrook. Former Lakers champion Shaquille O’Neal has decided to add to the discussion and recently threw his support behind former Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson in a recent interview with Reuters.

“Mark Jackson helped build Golden State before Steve Kerr took it to the next level. He made it a very sexy brand to watch, so I’m sure he can do that with LeBron and Russ,” O’Neal said when discussing potential coaching candidates during the interview.

Interestingly, O’Neal isn’t the only former Laker to endorse the former Warriors head coach, JR Smith recently went on record with his support for Jackson, posting it from his personal Twitter account.

Jackson Has a Checkered Past as a Coach

There is no shortage of horror stories surrounding Jackson’s tenure in Golden State, they’re told around campfires at basketball camps all over, and are used as a prime example of how not to lead a team.

Of course, all of the reports are unsubstantiated, but that doesn’t stop them from doing the rounds on social media. According to an old Zach Lowe article, then of Grantland, there was toxicity within the locker room that Jackson actively festered and fought to keep alive.

“When (Festus) Ezeli was injured last season, Jackson and his staff told the healthy players that Ezeli was cheering against them — so that he would look good, according to several team sources. Players confronted Ezeli in a meeting, and he wept at the accusation — which he denied,” Lowe wrote.

The Lakers’ locker room is already at a low point following their disappointing showing throughout the season, and adding a coach that will encourage animosity between his players and staff is probably not the correct way to go about resolving the team’s issues.

What the Lakers Need in a Coach

Frank Vogel is an excellent X’s and O’s coach who places a premium on the defensive side of the floor, but he’s never been known as a “players coach” – someone who connects with people from multiple walks of life and gets them to buy-in to a project as a unit.

Of course, simply appointing a players coach to galvanize the roster won’t solve any issues either. Steve Nash of the Brooklyn Nets is certainly built within the “player’s coach” mold and was utterly outmaneuvered by rookie head coach Ime Udoka during their first-round playoff series.

Instead, the Lakers need a coach in the same mold as Ty Lue of the Los Angeles Clippers. Lue is known to be an excellent communicator and is among the best X’s and O’s coaches in the NBA – of course, there’s almost no chance of acquiring him, but that’s the prototype the front office should be aiming for – it just so happens that Nick Nurse falls into this category too, go figure.

Vogel is great at what he does, but he didn’t fit what the Lakers need right now, which makes the next hire incredibly important, because if the front office fumble, the Lakers will be stuck in purgatory for at least another year, with or without Westbrook.

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