The Lakers might redefine the phrase “slow-speed chase.”
They are in no hurry to fill the coaching vacancy created Wednesday by Mike D’Antoni’s resignation and are planning a long search with many candidates.
George Karl, Jeff Van Gundy, Kurt Rambis and Byron Scott are four names on an ever-growing list of former NBA coaches the Lakers are interested in interviewing.
Other possibilities include Lionel Hollins, Steve Kerr and Chicago Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau, though the Lakers would need permission from the Bulls to speak to him.
Thibodeau just finished the first season of a four-year, $17-million extension. It was unclear if the Bulls would allow the Lakers to talk to him.
There are also a handful of college coaches under consideration, including Kentucky’s John Calipari and Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie, though hiring a college coach to lead the Lakers would be new ground for them.
Regarding Calipari, who has coached in the NBA, one person familiar with his thinking said he wouldn’t leave the Wildcats because “He’s a god in Kentucky.”
More than usual, it will need to be a two-way street. When the Lakers came calling the past, coaches fell all over themselves for an interview.
That might still happen, but the team is coming off its worst season in Los Angeles and has committed $33 million next season to Kobe Bryant, who will be 36 in August, and Steve Nash, 40.
Nash could be waived or bought out, but coaches will have questions for sure.
Will the Lakers spend liberally on free agents this summer? Likely answer: Only if LeBron James terminates his deal. A year from now, however, will be a different story when Kevin Love becomes a free agent and maybe James too at that time.
Will the Lakers stop being a coaching turnstile, having said goodbye to three of their last four coaches before their contracts expired? Likely answer to candidates: The Lakers hope so.
The Lakers almost surely won’t have a coach in place before the May 20 NBA draft lottery but will have someone before the June 26 draft.
How they do in the lottery and whether they keep the pick will affect their coaching decision to a degree.
If they move up to the first, second or third spots and do not trade the pick, it will tilt them toward hiring a younger coach. If they stayed in their current draft spot on lottery night (sixth) or fell as far as ninth (the lowest they could slide), they probably would lean toward a more veteran coach because the team would not be as dependent immediately on a young player.
Karl, who turns 63 this month, is an interesting option. He became familiar with the franchise when his son, Coby, played for the Lakers in the 2007-08 season, and was one of the few coaches respected by Phil Jackson.
Van Gundy’s name has continually popped up in Lakers coaching searches over the years, but the sides have never come close to a deal.
Rambis and Scott would be easy hires for a franchise obviously familiar with their names.
Rambis hasn’t ventured far from the Lakers’ umbrella since retiring as a player and has filled numerous roles for the Lakers since first joining Del Harris’ coaching staff in 1994. Rambis served as an assistant under Jackson for seven seasons and most recently coached under D’Antoni for one season.
Scott logged 13 years as an NBA head coach and was a regular this season as a commentator on the Lakers’ TV network, Time Warner Cable SportsNet.
If the Lakers want an up-and-comer with some NBA experience, Quin Snyder can’t be overlooked.
Snyder is the Atlanta Hawks’ top assistant and in charge of their offense. He spent the 2011-12 season as an assistant coach on Mike Brown’s staff before leaving to work under former Lakers consultant Ettore Messina at CSKA Moscow.
Whomever the Lakers choose, it won’t be decided any time soon. In a coaching race that will include many candidates, the only sure thing is the next coach won’t be Jackson.