As the Lakers entered the second week of their coaching search, their pool of interviewers expanded.
In addition to controlling owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka, the Lakers have had co-owners Joey and Jesse Buss, chief operating officer Tim Harris, director of special projects Linda Rambis, and her husband Kurt, a senior advisor for the Lakers, participate in interviews with Miami assistant Juwan Howard and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue this week, according to people familiar with the team’s plans. The Lakers officials were all traveling to Philadelphia on Thursday to meet with 76ers assistant Monty Williams.
Howard’s interview on Tuesday was his first with the Lakers. Lue’s interview on Wednesday and Williams’ interview in Philadelphia will be their second. The 76ers will travel to Toronto on Friday and play the Raptors on Saturday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Joey and Jesse Buss are the two youngest sons of late Lakers owner Jerry Buss and half brothers to Jeanie Buss. Joey runs the Lakers’ G League team, the South Bay Lakers, whose players injected some life into the Lakers’ late-season games when called up to the NBA level. Jesse is the team’s assistant general manager and director of scouting and has had a hand in many of the Lakers’ finds in drafts in the last few years. Both brothers hold ownership shares equal to their older sisters Jeanie and Janie, and their older brothers Johnny and Jim.
When Magic Johnson and Pelinka ran the Lakers’ front office, they did not allow others in the organization to participate in free agency or other personnel decisions. This contingent helping with interviews could represent a shift in that approach.
With Pelinka leading the Lakers’ coaching search, though, it’s unclear what role the others involved in the interviews will have in selecting the next head coach.
Williams and Lue both have former head coaching experience. Lue was the Cavaliers’ coach when they won Cleveland’s first championship in more than 50 years. That championship came in 2016 and was LeBron James’ first in his home state. Lue took over as the Cavaliers’ coach in January 2016 and was fired in October 2018 after the Cavaliers started the season 0-6.
Williams was head coach of the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans from 2010 to 2015, and coached Anthony Davis for his first three seasons. Williams is reportedly the top choice of the Phoenix Suns, who fired coach Igor Kokoskov this week after one season.
The Lakers’ head coaching job has been open since April 12 when they reached a mutual agreement to part ways with Luke Walton. Walton had been the team’s head coach for three seasons, taking over a year after Kobe Bryant retired.