There are many candidates available for the Los Angeles Lakers to pursue in an effort to fill their currently vacant head coaching position.
With many of them being considered for a variety of reasons, one common theme amongst the potential candidates appears to be that they would all be good long-term solutions. Stability is something the Lakers have not had since the departure of Phil Jackson in 2011, seeing Mike Brown, Mike D’Antoni and now Byron Scott all go in another direction in two full seasons or less.
Connecticut men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie is also seemingly a steady, long-term answer at the position, but he also has something that those candidates do not — a connection to Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.
Ollie served as a mentor to Durant for a season in Oklahoma City when the two were teammates before the former retired and eventually went into coaching. That aspect of his candidacy has made him very intriguing to a lot of fans. But as it turns out, one person interested in the job also shares a similar connection, and has major ties to the purple and gold.
Derek Fisher, a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers, is interested in his former team’s head coaching job, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Fisher was fired by Jackson’s New York Knicks this season. He took the job almost immediately after retiring as a member of the Thunder, where he played alongside Durant and Russell Westbrook in three different seasons.
There have been no reports of the Lakers being interested in hiring Fisher as their next head coach, but the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola reports that Fisher believes his connection with the Thunder duo could give him a shot.
Fisher, according to a source, is hoping that his connections to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will make him more attractive to the Lakers, who have missed out on key free agents the past few summers.
Now, Fisher obviously has a bad reputation already as a coach because of the failed experiment in New York, but to his defense, with Jackson basically forcing the team to run the triangle offense and attempting to coach through Fisher, that is a situation that is almost impossible to succeed.
The way the game has adapted with an emphasis on floor-spacing and three-point shooting, the triangle has quickly become outdated. Quite frankly, the type of players you need to effectively run it are much harder to find now than say, 10 years ago. I highly doubt Fisher would attempt to run it again in his next coaching stint, if he gets one.
With all that being said, I am still not sure Fisher is meant to be a head coach, even with the circumstances with the Knicks. I suppose only time will tell, if he gets another opportunity.
One thing that could be beneficial for everyone, however, is if the Lakers hire the front-runner for the job: Luke Walton. He was also a teammate of Fisher’s for a few years, and it is unknown who would fill out his coaching staff if he lands a head coaching job.
If Walton does end up as the next head coach in Los Angeles, it would make sense to hire Fisher to his staff, given their past history. Of course, that is under the assumption that Fisher would be willing to accept that role. With that combination, the Lakers would have their man at the helm, along with a connection to Durant this year, as well as with Westbrook and Serge Ibaka next summer.
Then again, Fisher’s recent incident with Matt Barnes may hurt his ability to help influence players to join a team that he is a member of.
That is not to say any of those three would jump ship to come to Los Angeles, but it could be a scenario that benefits the Lakers and Fisher. And just to be clear, this is pure speculation on my part.
While Fisher should not be the next head coach of the Lakers, simply because there are far more promising candidates available, a reduced role on the staff could be something to keep an eye on. With Ollie reportedly requesting some personnel power if he were to take the job, this scenario could be another connection to Durant this summer, no matter how slim the Lakers’ chances are.