After over a week of no reported activity whatsoever, the Los Angeles Lakers now appear to be taking absolutely no time off.
Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss have already reached out to a few candidates to gauge their interest in the team’s head coaching vacancy, and that list continues to grow.
On Monday, they received permission to interview San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina. Next up on their list of candidates to call was former Houston Rockets coach and current ESPN analyst, Jeff Van Gundy. Sam Amick of USA Today Sports has the latest on that situation.
Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie and former Houston Rockets and New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, who is now an ESPN analyst, are also expected to receive consideration. According to a person with knowledge of Van Gundy’s situation, he has also been contacted by the Lakers and does have an interest in the position.
Van Gundy is another excellent choice on the Lakers list of candidates and should definitely be considered. In his 10 full seasons as a NBA head coach, his teams missed the postseason just once. Van Gundy has a strong reputation as a defensive-minded coach and has experience working with young players, which is what the Lakers need.
Another interesting dynamic with Van Gundy is his recent “ties” to Phil Jackson. The latter’s camp has reportedly blamed the former for the media’s harsh criticism of the triangle offense and the New York Knicks as of late. With all the rumors that Jackson is angling his way to return to the Lakers next summer as the team’s new vice president of basketball operations — if Jim Buss is unable to get the team back to contention — it would be an awkward situation if Van Gundy were the coach in place.
Needless to say, those are allegedly just rumors for a time period that is still over a year away. But still, even with those question marks around the front office still lurking, it is refreshing to hear of multiple candidates’ interest in the Lakers head coaching job.
Kupchak and Buss have been busy, and it only looks like that workload is going to increase in these next few weeks as they search for the next head coach in Los Angeles.