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Doc Rivers? Nick Nurse? A Lakers insider’s guide to Frank Vogel’s replacement

Raptors coach Nick Nurse yells instructions from the sidline.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse is a potential coaching candidate as the Lakers look to replace Frank Vogel.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)
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Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations and general manager, said the team hasn’t put “together a list for who the replacement is” in a coaching search to replace the fired Frank Vogel.

That hasn’t stopped the rumors from starting about who the Lakers will be interested in after they officially parted ways with Vogel on Monday.

The most intriguing coaching names they likely will consider are Utah’s Quin Snyder, Toronto’s Nick Nurse, Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers and Michigan’s Juwan Howard, but all of those coaches are under contract.

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Steve Clifford, the former coach with the Orlando Magic, Terry Stotts, the former Portland Trail Blazers coach, and Darvin Ham, an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, are names that have been mentioned among league insiders.

The Lakers, Pelinka said during an interview with reporters Monday afternoon, will not be in a rush to make a decision on the next coach.

“I think it’s going to be a very methodical process, and I think the principles here are not to pick an end date and say, ‘Hey, we have to have someone by this date.’ I think we want to find the right person,” Pelinka said. “I think that’s the most important thing. I think all things considered, it would be great to have someone in place by the [NBA] draft” on June 23.

You might not like him, maybe you revile him, but Doc Rivers is the right coach to replace Frank Vogel, writes L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke.

“But our process will be thorough and methodical, and we haven’t even begun to put together a list or discuss who the replacement is. We wanted to make a commitment to finishing the season strong last night, which we were able to do. And not skip steps, and kind of turn to those decisions once the season was over starting today.”

Snyder, who is known for having very good offensive sets and a solid defensive foundation, has led the Jazz to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. He was an assistant with the Lakers while on the staff of coach Mike Brown in 2011-2012. Not only is Snyder under contract with the Jazz for at least one more season, people not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said he has become less interested in the Lakers’ job because of how the Vogel firing was handled.

Nurse, who led the Raptors to the NBA championship in 2019, also has a few years left on his deal and no one from around the league thinks Toronto will let him leave. Nurse signed a multiyear contract extension in 2020 with two years still remaining on his current deal.

Once upon a time the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook bet was a sign of hope. Then the reality of an aging roster, and injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, set in.

As one person with knowledge of the situation said, “there hasn’t been anything substantiated by way of any discussion from any parties.”

Nurse is represented by Klutch Sports, which also represents Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both of whom have told friends that they like how Nurse coaches.

Although Rivers has three years left on his deal with the 76ers, a person familiar with his situation said he should not be discounted as a candidate. Rivers won an NBA championship with the Celtics in 2008 and lost a Finals rematch with the Lakers in 2010.

Many people around the league feel Rivers has the clout and the respect to coach stars like James, Davis and Russell Westbrook.

According to people familiar with Howard’s situation, he wants to continue coaching his two sons, Jett and Jace, who both play at Michigan. Howard interviewed for the Lakers job that eventually went to Vogel in 2019. Howard was an assistant coach for six seasons with Miami and won two championships as a player with James and the Heat.

On the same day that LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, GM Rob Pelinka and others address the media, the Lakers fire coach Frank Vogel. Read more here.

“In terms of what this team needs right now, we feel like with, obviously, superstars on our team, we want a strong voice that’s able to inspire the players to play at the highest level of competition every night,” Pelinka said.

“And I think that’s going to be one of the resounding qualities that we look for in terms of holding everybody from the top player on our team to the 15th man to a degree of accountability. And that’s going to be one of the many characteristics that I think jumps out today.”


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