The NBA trade deadline is just nine days away, and the rumors are really starting to heat up around the league’s two largest markets: New York and Los Angeles. This time, though, it isn’t about trades, but rather a shift in front office structure.
Former Lakers head coach and current President of the Knicks, Phil Jackson, fired head coach Derek Fisher on Monday, leaving many to believe that he has something bigger in the works. Instead, it appears that assistant coach Kurt Rambis will take the reigns of the Knicks for the remainder of the season. The Lakers’ coaching situation also appears to be in shambles, with Byron Scott reportedly on a trial run for the rest of the season to convince the team’s front office to keep him around for at least another year.
Per usual, Stephen A. Smith delivered the latest chatter surrounding Los Angeles that he is hearing from his sources, and it doesn’t sound good for Scott. According to Smith, if Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton wants the Lakers’ head coaching job, it’s his. But that’s not all. Apparently Smith is hearing that Lakers owner Jeanie Buss is planning some major changes.
Stephen A: "If (Jeanie Buss) does that, you know she's gonna bring Phil back. And I think Dolan will let him out of his deal to go to LA."
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) February 8, 2016
Adrian Wojnarowski is widely regarded as the most reputable reporter with legitimate sources that the NBA world has to offer, and he is hearing something similar on the latest buzz surrounding the Lakers.
“Golden State assistant Luke Walton is closest to a legitimately coveted candidate with ties to Jackson and the triangle – and he’s still largely unproven, too. Walton intrigues Jackson, but truth be told: Why would Walton come East without an assurance Jackson is committed to the long run in New York? There’s still a strong belief Jackson will eventually find his way to his fiancée Jeanie Buss and the Los Angeles Lakers. Walton will be competing with Thibodeau for the Lakers job in the spring, and who knows: Jackson and Walton could be reunited there.”
Many people initially figured that Jackson was creating a vacant position for Walton or Tom Thibodeau to take over as head coach of the Knicks. Instead, it seems as though he may be trying to maneuver his way back to the Lakers, while bringing his former player with him to replace Scott. The fact that Wojnarowski flat out says that Walton and Thibodeau will be competing for the job in a few months is telling. Is the front office just going to ride out these final 28 games of the season with Scott at the helm and make the change in the offseason? Time will tell.
If this blockbuster move were to happen, does that mean Jackson would want Walton to implement the Triangle offense? That seems to be the last offensive system you want D’Angelo Russell to be running, and the Lakers don’t really have the pieces to run it anyways when you look at their young talent. This is a group that is meant to get out and run, while running a heavy dose of pick-and-roll action in half-court sets.
At this point, there are far more questions than answers and this could merely just be speculation around the league. Either way, Smith’s initial report seems to be gaining a little bit of traction, but it’s early.
The summer of 2016 was already going to be an important offseason for the Lakers. With each passing day, the magnitude of it seems to become greater. In order to take the necessary steps forward in the rebuilding process, the Lakers will need to be smart this summer. Will that be achieved by undergoing a front office overhaul, or through stability? We’re going to find out, one way or another.