The Lakers are still in the initial phase of their search for a new head coach but it appears there are still some early frontrunners. In casting a wide, wide net early on, there are a number of candidates that have been considered, but according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, two coaches that have already been interviewed are the early favorites.
The Lakers have already been linked to over a dozen candidates for their head-coaching vacancy, but none of them have emerged as a clear front-runner yet. Ham and Terry Stotts are probably the closest to current favorites.
Darvin Ham was the very first candidate the team reached out to interview. The Bucks assistant has been one of the hottest names on the coaching market for multiple years. This offseason feels like the moment he finally transitions from an assistant to the lead man as he’s also considered a finalist for the Hornets’ opening as well.
Stotts was a bit more of a surprise when the Lakers interviewed him. One of the few former head coaches on the market, Stotts made his name as the long-time head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers before mutually parting ways with the franchise last summer. Since then, he has taken the year off, choosing not to serve as an assistant coach.
The biggest difference — or advantage depending on your viewpoint — between Stotts and Ham is that the former is a former head coach while the latter would be a rookie. While the Lakers are going to be looking to compete from day one, hiring a rookie coach is something they’re “strongly considering” doing, according to Buha.
Aside from Nick Nurse, Quin Snyder or another elite coach becoming available, it looks like the Lakers are strongly considering the upside of a rookie head coach.
Considering the talent pool available and the basically the only coaches on the market with head coaching experience being the likes of Stotts, Mark Jackson or Kenny Atkinson, it would make sense the Lakers are considering the idea of a rookie coach.
Bringing in a retread just because they had a previous job over a rookie coach isn’t going to guarantee any level of success and might not even be the best option. The amount of experience realistically shouldn’t factor too much into this search. The Lakers should simply just hire the coach they think is the best candidate available, regardless if it’s a former head coach or a rookie one.
For now, experience hasn’t been a determining factor in who the Lakers interview as they’ve reached out to a number of assistant coaches and candidates who have not had head coaching experience. It’s an encouraging sign from the franchise, something that has been a rarity in recent years.