Lakers interview Kurt Rambis for coaching position

Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis, left, speaks with small forward Wesley Johnson during a game against the Orlando Magic in January. The Lakers have interviewed Rambis for their head coaching position.
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

The Lakers interviewed another celebrated player from their past, meeting with Kurt Rambis recently about their coaching vacancy.

Rambis, 56, was an assistant last season under Mike D’Antoni, who resigned four weeks ago.

The Lakers have now interviewed Rambis and fellow “Showtime” team member Byron Scott. They have also met with Mike Dunleavy and plan to interview Alvin Gentry on Wednesday and Lionel Hollins on Thursday.

The team remains on a slow march toward a replacement for D’Antoni and might eventually sit down with about 10 candidates. The Lakers hope to have a coach in place before picking seventh in the June 26 NBA draft but it is not a prerequisite for them.


They are also curious to see if Derek Fisher might be a good fit as a coach but don’t plan on talking with him until Oklahoma City’s playoff run ends.

The Lakers are less inclined than initially thought to interview George Karl because he runs an up-tempo system. They will have only three players under contract after Nick Young declines a player option for next season: Kobe Bryant, who will be 36 in August, Steve Nash, who is 40, and young center Robert Sacre.

Rambis was an assistant with the Lakers from 1994-98, and became their interim head coach 12 games into the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. He later became an assistant coach under Phil Jackson for seven seasons and then was head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves for two seasons before returning to the Lakers a year ago.

Many Lakers players enjoyed working with Rambis last season and he was often seen talking with them on the court an hour before games or long after practices. Rambis is a disciple of Jackson’s triangle offense and would run more traditional halfcourt sets compared to D’Antoni’s small-ball scheme.

Young testing market

It’s not a big surprise, but Young will decline his player option after only one season with the Lakers, his agent said Tuesday.

“He’s going to be a free agent but he’d love to be in L.A.,” Mark Bartelstein said. “Although things didn’t go great from a team perspective, individually he loved playing for the Lakers. Being a part of the organization means the world to him and he truly believes in the Laker colors.”

But Young, 28, won’t offer a hometown discount after becoming a free agent. His player option would have netted him $1.2 million next season. The average NBA salary is about $5.5 million a year.


“You always want to get compensated properly,” Bartelstein said. “The Lakers and I knew going into last year it was a below-market deal but Nick would take it and pick up [his game] from there and that’s exactly what happened.”

Young averaged a team-high 17.9 points last season.

Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.