With the Los Angeles Lakers having parted ways with head coach Byron Scott earlier this week, all eyes are now on who the team will hire to fill the vacancy.
The popular opinion has been that the job is Luke Walton’s to lose, but there are several other options available, especially with the team having already received permission to interview San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina.
But an extra wrinkle has been added to the coaching search. In a report given by Sporting News, it has been alleged that the Lakers are primarily looking for a head coach who can be a free agent recruiter:
The Lakers are looking for a coach. But more than Xs and Os, more than establishing a style of play and seeking a developer of young players, the Lakers are looking for a new, “recruiter-in-chief,” as one source said…
“That appears to be the No. 1 priority,” a league source told Sporting News. “It’s not just finding a guy to work with what’s on the roster. They need a coach who can pitch players.”
This report suggests that Kevin Ollie, who has reportedly expressed his interest in the job, will be a legitimate candidate in the Lakers’ search. Ollie has a publicly great relationship with his former teammate Kevin Durant, who is a free agent this summer. The Lakers will certainly try to sign the superstar and if they believe Ollie can recruit him, that may make him one of the favorites for the job.
I have mixed feelings about this report, if it is true. On one hand, I dislike the idea of hiring a coach mainly to recruit free agents. Not only are there multiple and more important factors in free agents’ decisions that would render this mostly useless, but it also diminishes the most important role of a head coach: you know, coaching. The next head coach of the Lakers should be someone that understands the concepts of modern basketball and someone who can continue to develop the already present young talent on the roster, not someone who adds a five percent chance of signing a big-time free agent.
That being said, if this report means that the Lakers will make their decision before free agency begins, then it’s a good thing in that respect. The last time the team needed a head coach, they waited after free agency meetings, presumably to allow their main targets to “choose” who would coach the team. That did not work as none of those targets moved to LA and the coach became Byron Scott.
The perfect scenario is that the Lakers hire a head coach in the next couple of weeks and take into account that coach’s recruiting ability as a factor in the decision, but not as the primary reasoning. In all likelihood, showing a clear and organized path back into contention with a head coach on board is much more important to any free agent than how good of a recruiter said coach is. So, it is more important than ever to hire a head coach who they think can create the perfect situation for already present players and potential free agent signings to prosper.