The coaching carousel in the NBA will be quite interesting to watch this summer as it’s possible that a number of teams look to make new hires. Memphis, Milwaukee and Phoenix are all on interim coaches right now, with the Bucks in particular being a highly coveted destination for coaches given their strong young roster.
Other teams, like the Knicks, Magic, and Lakers, among others, could look to make coaching changes for various reasons. The Knicks and Magic find themselves near the bottom of the league which often leads to a coaching change, but the most interesting of those is with regards to Luke Walton in L.A.
Walton has gotten a lot out of the young Lakers recently and would be a hot commodity should he be let go. That begs the question of why his name has come up as someone who could potentially lose their job, and the answer is fairly simple. The Lakers are going to go all-in on a push for LeBron James (and Paul George) and they might think a coaching change could give them a leg up in the race for James’ services on the free agent market.
As Mitch Lawrence from Sporting News (among others) points out, James’ relationship with David Fizdale could lead them to trying to hire the former Heat assistant and Grizzlies head coach. Fizdale apparently has interest in the Lakers, although it’s unclear if L.A. will reciprocate that, and if they don’t Fizdale will have plenty of suitors led by Phoenix.
Phoenix is targeting former Memphis coach Dave Fizdale to replace interim coach Jay Triano, according to league sources. When Fizdale was the lead assistant to Eric Spoelstra in Miami during the LeBron Era, James Jones was on the Heat roster. Jones has been the Suns’ vice president of basketball operations since last July.
The Suns could have some strong competition for Fizdale, though — sources report that he has his eye on the Lakers job, and the feeling is that his strong ties to James can help the Lakers land LeBron when free agency opens on July 1. James didn’t just support Fizdale after his firing. He went on the attack, saying on Twitter, “I need some answers. Feels like my man was a fall guy.” That’s how highly he regards Fizdale, an LA native.
The league view is if the Lakers can land James with Fizdale’s help, they’ll have to move on from Luke Walton.
The biggest takeaway from this is that Fizdale won’t be without a head coaching job for long, but where he ends up next year remains something of a mystery. The Lakers job comes with tons of pressure but is also a premier coaching job, even if things have not gone well there for pretty much every coach since Phil Jackson, and if it also comes with the addition of LeBron James it would make things even better. Phoenix is an interesting young team that will apparently be looking to take “the leap” next season by way of spending this summer, and Fizdale’s connections to their front office makes that an apparently cozy fit.
Lawrence drops a number of other nuggets of information about the potential shuffling of coaches this summer, such as the Knicks wanting to pursue Doc Rivers and Jerry Stackhouse being a potential candidate in Orlando should they let go of Frank Vogel as many anticipate. In any case, after a summer with no coaching changes, 2018 figures to be a very active year for coaches moving around.