Why the Lakers are (probably) not going to hire Mark Jackson

Why the Lakers are (probably) not going to hire Mark Jackson

As the Lakers coaching rumor cycle continues to fly in the wake of Frank Vogel’s dismissal, we have reached the seemingly inevitable point of any coaching search: The part where Mark Jackson gets connected to the job through anonymously sourced rumors.

Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote an expansive story on LeBron James’ thoughts on the last 48 hours or so, and within it, he included a nugget about the former Golden State Warriors head coach and current ESPN analyst, and how LeBron James may have some interest in him as the next Lakers head coach (emphasis mine):

And here’s a tidbit to monitor as the Lakers conduct their latest coaching search: Sources say James would be very enthused by the prospect of Mark Jackson landing the job. But as history tells us, that doesn’t mean it will actually happen.

Amick is not wrong about the “history” part. James and his camp did reportedly push for Jackson with the Cavaliers back in 2016, but he was “never considered,” according to Adrian Wojnarowski’s reporting at the time. The team ultimately settled on Ty Lue to replace David Blatt.

But it’s not just James’ history that suggests Jackson won’t gain much traction in Los Angeles. Even during an extremely wide-ranging and expansive coaching search in 2019 after Luke Walton was fired, Jackson reportedly never even made the list of people the Lakers wanted to interview. I don’t really expect that to change — given that it’s the exact same people running this coaching search — for a multitude of reasons beyond that past snub.

For one thing, Jackson’s resume as a coach is not great. The Warriors immediately took off after he was fired, with Stephen Curry winning back-to-back MVPs after being unleashed in a modern offensive system that optimized his talents.

For another, Jackson’s last tenure in Golden State did… not exactly go well. After he was fired, Warriors governor Joe Lacob admitted on the record that part of the reason he fired Jackson was that “he couldn’t get along with anybody else in the organization… And look, he did a great job, and I’ll always compliment him in many respects, but you can’t have 200 people in the organization not like you.

Again, Lacob is famously unfiltered, but that is a stunning admission for someone to attach their name to in an NBA media environment where reporters will pretty much freely let you blast whoever you want anonymously.

Now, why did “200 people” in the Warriors’ organization not like Jackson? Was it because things got so dysfunctional that one of his assistant coaches began trying to secretly record their coaching meetings? Was it because Jackson “made a show of firing (then Warriors assistant Brian) Scalabrine in front of players and other coaches”? Or because he banned Jerry West from practices while he was advising with the Warriors? All of the above? Other reasons?

We’ll never know for sure, but one thing we do know is this: The Lakers front office, potentially to their detriment, has liked to micromanage coaches. From hand-picking all of Frank Vogel’s staff, to Kurt Rambis sitting in on coaching meetings, does that sound like the type of brain trust that would want to hire a coach so domineering that his tendencies are infamous even amongst a profession almost entirely comprised of control freaks?

Now, maybe Jackson, desperate for another head coaching job after not being seriously considered for another since the Warriors dumped him, would be willing to acquiesce to those types of demands from Rambis and Rob Pelinka. But color me skeptical things would even get to that point, in part because the team didn’t even try to interview him last time.

There is also this: Lakers governor Jeanie Buss has been a proud advocate LGBTQIA+ community, instituting an annual Lakers Pride Night in 2018. The first honoree the Lakers ever hosted for that event was longtime NBA center Jason Collins, the first openly gay active player in the history of the league.

That is relevant because, in 2014, when Collins’ name was brought up as a possible 10-day contract signing while the Warriors dealt with injuries shortly after he had come out, Jackson allegedly responded “not in my locker room.” Jackson called that report “lies!!” on Twitter, but Andre Iguodala, a former Warriors player under Jackson, has said he felt the incident led to Jackson being “blackballed” by the league.

The veracity of that claim is open to interpretation, but given Buss’ beliefs and Jackson’s coaching resume and TV work being so bad that he’s never really gotten close to a job since his first one, the combination of it all has me skeptical that the Lakers will break the trend and be the next team to give him a head coaching job.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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