Insider IDs Early Front-Runner for Lakers HC Vacancy: ‘Ahead of the Pack’

Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Anthony Davis #3 and LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach search may already be gaining some clarity.

General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Rob Pelinka will soon begin interviewing candidates. JJ Redick could have a leg up on the competition.

“I said last week in my mailbag that if I had to pick the candidate most likely to get the head coaching position, I would pick Redick. I stand by that; I still think he is the slight favorite among the candidate pool,” The Athletic’s Jovan Buha said on May 14.

“That could always change during the interview process. Maybe someone really impresses the Lakers and takes that designation from him. But right now I believe Redick is slightly ahead of the field. And if I was asked the question again today who the most likely hire is, I would pick Redick again.”

Redick spent 15 seasons in the NBA split between six franchises.

He has no head coaching experience but quickly emerged as a potential candidate after the Lakers fired Darvin Ham. Redick was also a finalist for the Charlotte Hornets vacancy.

JJ Redick Eager to Coach in NBA

“He [Redick] has transitioned into becoming a successful media personality as an analyst, a commentator, and a podcaster,” Buha continued. We’ve seen several coaches make that jump, most notably Doc Rivers and Steve Kerr. And he [Redick] has a notable podcast with LeBron James; the “Mind The Game” podcast, which has been going on now for a couple of months and clearly shows that LeBron and JJ have similar basketball sensibilities.”

Redick could be getting a helping hand from former Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Krzyzewski is advising the Lakers in their search.

Redick also said he wants to coach.

“What I really miss is the juice, I miss the action, I miss the competition, I miss leadership, I miss being on a team,” Redick said on the “Road Trippin’” podcast on May 8. “There is a high that you get as an athlete that goes beyond passing, and shooting, and dribbling, and … taking a charge, or dunking a basketball.

“Those are all these little moments of actual gameplay, it’s the other moments that I feel like we all miss as ex-athletes, right? The part about coaching in general, it’s a very general statement, is the things that I miss and the things that I love doing.”

Lakers Would Pursue Ty Lue ‘Hard’ for HC Vacancy

Buha also named former Hornets head coach James Borrego and long-time assistant and NBA champion Sam Cassell as the other leading candidates.

Hiring any of them would either represent a notable shift for the Lakers. Redick’s appeal to the Lakers in the summer of James is clear. But they have a different head coach in mind for their top preference.

That was Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, who Buha called a “big factor.”

“If he becomes available, he automatically becomes their top choice,” Buha said on “Buha’s Block” on May 10. “They will pursue him hard.”

Lue rejected the Lakers’ overtures in 2019 due to a perceived low-ball offer. He has since said that he wants to remain with the Clippers. The belief is they will work out a long-term contract.