Lakers’ next coach? Here’s a rundown of the potential candidates

Former Clippers guard JJ Redick, left, chats with official Nick Buchert on the court during a timeout in a game in Orlando.
Former Clippers guard JJ Redick, chatting with official Nick Buchert in Orlando this past season, has been linked to the coaching vacancy in Charlotte. Could he also be on the Lakers’ list of candidates?
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)
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The Lakers fired coach Darvin Ham after two seasons, both of which had unarguable successes but ended with the Lakers losing to Denver in the playoffs.

The team reached the Western Conference finals in Ham’s first season and won the in-season tournament in his second. But inconsistent lineups and too much experimentation with personnel combined with a lack of locker room support led to frustration.

Whatever the cause, the future is what matters most. Who will the Lakers turn to next?

The established candidates


There’s an assumption in some NBA circles that the Lakers, as they’ve been prone to doing, will turn hard toward the other direction after deciding the road they were traveling was the wrong one.

In the past, they replaced an outsider in Mike D’Antoni with an insider in Byron Scott. They replaced Scott, an experienced coach, with Luke Walton, who was getting his first head coaching job. After Walton, they went with someone more experienced in Frank Vogel, after talking with other experienced coaches such as Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue.

And after Vogel, they hired another first-time coach — Ham.

So if the Lakers are going to zig after they zagged (no, not Gonzaga’s Mark Few), where could they look?

Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson was a finalist for the job two summers ago and impressed some in the front office during the Lakers’ last coaching search. Former Portland coach Terry Stotts has been high on the team’s wish list on multiple occasions, with the Lakers trying to hire him as a lead assistant, according to people familiar with the situation not authorized to speak publicly.

Lue, of course, would be a primary target should he become available (and probably the same for Dallas coach Jason Kidd), but Lue has a job coaching the Clippers, and could get a contract extension soon.

Mike Budenholzer, Ham’s former boss in Milwaukee and Atlanta, is expected to fetch the biggest coaching contract this offseason should he take a new job. Other former coaches who have lead bench roles around the NBA include Scott Brooks and James Borrego.


Second-year coach Darvin Ham was fired by the Lakers after earning the seventh seed and suffering a first-round playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets.

May 3, 2024

The redo

The Lakers could buck their hiring trends and again try to find an established assistant coach ready to take on an elevated role.

Denver’s David Adelman has had a front-row seat for the Lakers’ issues with the Nuggets and has fans inside the Lakers’ front office.

Minnesota assistant Micah Nori is about to take on a prominent role after Timberwolves coach Chris Finch suffered a knee injury in his team’s sweep against Phoenix.

Who should the Lakers hire as their next coach? Clippers coach Tyronn Lue would be an obvious choice or Becky Hammon for a culture shock.

May 3, 2024

Boston assistant Charles Lee worked with Ham in Milwaukee and has been regarded as a top coaching prospect and a top candidate in Charlotte. Celtics assistant Sam Cassell has interviewed for top jobs as well.

Dallas’ Sean Sweeney also is seen as a strong future coach, and Mavericks assistant (and former Laker) Jared Dudley is very close with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Miami’s Chris Quinn is also highly thought of in NBA circles.

Going this route again — while acknowledging there is no time for a learning curve with James and Davis anchoring the core — probably isn’t the ideal option. But, it could end up being the best one if the Lakers don’t find an attractive candidate with experience.


The wild card

One name that has had some steam is JJ Redick, a former player turned TV analyst.

Redick, whose name surfaced in regard to the Charlotte opening, is a strong-enough basketball mind in James’ book that the two partnered for a podcast about on-court strategy. But Redick, 39, never has coached. And again, the Lakers are entering a period of real urgency.