The Lakers Are Ready To Move On Without Phil Jackson

By: 05.12.11  •  14 Comments

Who will coach the Lakers next season? Almost immediately upon getting knocked out of the playoffs, the focus of L.A.’s offseason turned to who will replace Phil Jackson and his 11 championship rings. Because they are the Lakers and because they still have a ton of talent on the roster, L.A. should have the pick of the litter. GM Mitch Kupchak says that while he expects Jackson to retire, he is not yet ready to talk about the probable coaching vacancy. But we can.

Here is an update on some of the potential candidates and what it all means for the Lakers.

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Mike Krzyzewski, Kurt Rambis, Jim Clemons– Two coaches who’ve been linked to the job in the past, but probably gave up their best opportunities to get it. Coach K was the man Kobe wanted to replace Jackson the first time in 2004, but couldn’t bring himself to leave Duke. There’s even less of a chance he does it this time. And Rambis was considered to be one of the potential suitors when he was an assistant under Jackson. But now that he left for a head coaching gig in Minnesota, his chances of coming back to coach in L.A. are not very high. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports lists Clemons as a potential candidate, but the Laker assistant’s chances don’t appear all that great.

Byron Scott– The current Cleveland head coach won three titles in his playing days with the Lakers, and his name always seems to come up when talking about potential future Laker coaches. The problem is that he’s still under contract with the Cavs. Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer reports that Cleveland won’t even allow the Lakers to speak with him because he doesn’t have an “out” clause in his contract.

Jeff Van Gundy– Van Gundy could handle the spotlight, having done so already in New York, and has some of the big-game coaching experience that many of the other candidates don’t. When approached, Van Gundy told the New York Post: “Certainly any coach would be interested in their base of talent. But you are following the hardest act in pro basketball in Phil Jackson. But most coaches would still embrace that challenge if it’s the right timing for them.” At this point, this hire would probably be too drastic a change.

Brian Shaw– Shaw appears to be the favorite even though Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Laker organization might be split on him at this point. He has the pedigree as both a Laker player and assistant coach. He’s been in the system for basically a decade, and knows the triangle well enough to keep the system in place (which is huge for an older team like the Lakers rather than changing it up now). Most importantly, Bryant respects him and the two have known each other since Kobe was just a young kid. The Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors have also shown interest in talking to Shaw, reports Yahoo! Sports, but his first choice has to be L.A.

Who will coach the Lakers next season?

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