Empowered by Buss to run the coaching search, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka met with Tyronn Lue and Monty Williams this week, with plans to interview both again next week. While those second interviews have not been officially scheduled yet, they are expected to include Buss, according to people familiar with the Lakers’ plans who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Pelinka also will meet with Juwan Howard, his former teammate at Michigan, who is an assistant coach with the Miami Heat. That meeting is expected to take place Tuesday, according to people familiar with the Lakers’ plans.
All three candidates are former NBA players. Only Lue and Williams have head coaching experience.
The first week of the search followed a chaotic week for the franchise. On April 9, Magic Johnson resigned as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, telling reporters before telling Buss or any other member of the organization. Buss has no plans to hire someone to replace Johnson, who is still expected to be part of the Lakers’ free-agent recruiting this summer in some capacity.
One reason Johnson gave for his departure was that he didn’t want to ask Buss to fire Luke Walton. But three days later, Walton and the Lakers reached an agreement to part ways. Walton is now the head coach of the Sacramento Kings.
Lue’s interview took place on Friday in Orange County. Throughout the season, rumors persisted that Lue was a frontrunner for the job if the Lakers decided to move on from Walton. Lue was adamant that he had no communication with them, even calling Walton to assure him.
But after Walton’s departure, Pelinka reached out to Lue, who was the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers for parts of four seasons. He took over in January 2016, the year LeBron James and the Cavaliers won Cleveland’s first championship in more than half a century. Lue started this season as Cleveland’s head coach but was fired after an 0-6 start.
The same weekend he contacted Lue, Pelinka also received permission from the Philadelphia 76ers to interview Williams and received permission from the Heat to interview Howard.
Williams, whose interview took place Tuesday in Philadelphia, was the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans from 2010 to 2015. He began working for Philadelphia as an assistant this season.