Meeting with Tyronn Lue was inevitable, but the Los Angeles Lakers seem ready to take their coaching search to a different level now.
The worst-kept secret in the NBA was the Los Angeles Lakers letting coach Luke Walton go, even if it was framed publicly as a mutual parting of ways. Tyronn Lue immediately surfaced as a candidate to replace Walton, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is meeting with the former Cavaliers’ coach on Friday.
Pelinka has also talked with Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams about the Lakers opening, with Wojnarowski indicating a second visit is likely. Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard, and former teammate of LeBron James’ with the Heat and of Pelinka’s at Michigan, is also set to interview for the job.
Lue coach James and the Cavaliers to three straight NBA Finals, including a championship in 2016. He was fired six games into the 2018-19 season.
If the 76ers underachieve in this year’s playoffs, Williams could easily step in and replace Brett Brown there. The Lakers will probably have to wait for that situation to resolve, one way or another, before possibly even seeing Williams for an anticipated second visit. On the other hand, Lue is available to be hired right away.
If James is allowed input into who the next Lakers’ head coach will be, he’d probably rank the three known candidates this way — Lue, Howard and Williams. A lot of other people might reverse that order, or at least put the very well-regarded Williams ahead of the other two.
The Lakers have reached a level of dysfunction in the front office, with Magic Johnson stepping down as team president and questions about Pelinka’s acumen as a general manager. A meeting with Lue signals a ramping up of the coaching search, perhaps in lieu of exercising patience, while also moving toward giving James the coach he would hand-pick again if he could.