There aren’t many job openings to be an NBA head coach right now, but Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis is interviewing for two of them.
Rambis met with Philadelphia 76ers President Ed Stefanski at a Santa Monica hotel Monday and will also interview with the Sacramento Kings at a date to be determined.
Other candidates for the Philadelphia job include Dallas assistant Dwane Casey, former Washington head coach Eddie Jordan and Boston assistant Tim Thibodeau. Jordan and Paul Westphal are the leading candidates for the Sacramento job.
“I’m glad for [Rambis],” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “He deserves a chance.”
Rambis, in his 10th season as a Lakers assistant, was the team’s head coach for part of the lockout-shortened 1999 season, compiling a 24-13 record. He has filled in for Jackson on a couple of occasions while the Lakers’ coach was absent for medical reasons.
Rambis, 51, coached the team during training camp in 2006 while Jackson recovered from hip surgery. More recently, Rambis coached the team in a late regular-season game in Portland while Jackson stayed in Los Angeles because of swelling in one of his legs.
Rambis interviewed with Chicago last May, and with Sacramento and Seattle in 2007.
The 76ers fired coach Maurice Cheeks two months into this season and replaced him with assistant general manager Tony DiLeo, who returned to the front office after the 76ers lost to Orlando in the first round of the playoffs.
“I met with Ed and I thought the meeting went well,” Rambis said of the Philadelphia interview. “Beyond that, I have no further comment. Right now, I’m focusing on helping the Lakers defeat the Nuggets.”
The Kings fired Reggie Theus during the season and did not keep interim coach Kenny Natt after the season ended.
Gasol got even?
Pau Gasol was definitely part of the struggling interior defense called out by Jackson after the Lakers defeated the Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
In the final minutes, however, Gasol had two big defensive plays, blocking Nene’s shot and taking a charge on Carmelo Anthony.
Perhaps Lamar Odom put it best, saying the Lakers were “resilient” when it mattered.
“We expect the game to be hard,” he said. “And we embraced that, and that’s what makes us a good team.”
Gasol finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds, but the Nuggets’ starting front court made an impressive 62.8% of its shots.
“They were just going to take the ball right at us,” Jackson said. “We’re going to have to get much better on the interior [defense] part of our game.”
Anthony made 14 of 20 shots, Nene made six of nine and Kenyon Martin made seven of 14.
Coby Karl played for the Lakers last season and was cut by them last October after making it through exhibition play this season. He’s also the son of Denver Coach George Karl. Might he give his dad a few tips on how to beat the Lakers?
“I think Coby has been away from us for almost a year now, playing over in Spain,” Jackson said. “He’s a heady ballplayer. I’m sure he can give his father a lot of things. But the reality is George . . . is fully aware of what we do. He’s one of the great coaches in this league.”