The Los Angeles Lakers may have missed out on a huge opportunity. According to the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, recently hired Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau was interested in accepting the same role with the Lakers.
But the Lakers do not have a vacancy and Thibodeau decided to accept an opportunity that included lots of money, an incredibly talented young roster, and a role as president of basketball operations. In short, the Lakers missed out.
Tom Thibodeau always believed he could lure free agents to the Los Angeles Lakers, that the proper structure and vision still makes that franchise the ultimate superstar destination. Thibodeau always had his eyes on the most glamorous job in basketball, but the Lakers hesitated and missed the chance to recruit him.
Thibodeau does have a big ego, and yes, the bright lights of the Staples Center, the Lakers’ prestige, intrigued him. To win a title is most important, yes, but to win with the Lakers would’ve been historic, and Thibodeau cares about his place in history. Nevertheless, the Buss family is too fractured to turn power over to one person – never mind an outsider – and maybe Thibodeau and the Lakers were never made to work.
There are multiple angles to look at here. Firstly, even with Thibodeau’s reported interest in signing with the Lakers, there is no guarantee that LAL would have offered him everything he needed. Most notably, that includes power to make personnel decisions, power that Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak probably do not want to give up.
But it is worth noting that the Lakers missed a chance to at least interview Thibs and perhaps convince him to accept the job with some sort of compromise. Perhaps Thibodeau would never come and maybe the Lakers were not even that interested in signing him despite the fact that the former Bulls lead man was arguably the best coach in the free agent market.
The real issue here is not that Los Angeles missed out on Thibodeau. It’s that they never had a chance to sign him, even though he seems to have had vested interest in accepting the job. It’s that they continue to employ Byron Scott while “deliberating” whether they should fire the coach with the worst record among all coaches in the history of the league through 1000 career games.
Thibodeau would have been a great hire, depending on how the front office role would have worked out in Los Angeles. He is a fantastic coach and as Woj mentions in his article, he has real relationships with multiple stars across the league due to his work with Team USA.
But there are other great options available for the Lakers. Scott Brooks, Luke Walton, Ettore Messina, and others are still available should the team want to hire them. In order to start that process, however, there needs to be a vacancy to fill.
One week after the end of the regular season, such a thing does not exist. And that’s the real issue.