The rumblings from the Los Angeles Lakers coaching search have quieted down in the past day or so, as the team received permission to interview what appears to be the top two candidates on their list in Golden State Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton and San Antonio Spurs assistant, Ettore Messina.
Another name that is high on their list is Connecticut men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie. Ollie is a fan-favorite for a variety of reasons, with his relationships with players being near the top, namely his friendship with Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.
It had been reported that the Lakers would have to offer Ollie some level of personnel control for him to take the job, which is something that he would probably not get with them.
Despite the possibility of the Lakers job being there for him, Ollie still has work to do in recruiting just in case that he is back at UCONN next season. Evan Daniels of Scout.com reports that Christian Vital, the latest UCONN commitment, revealed that the interest between Ollie and the Lakers may no longer be mutual.
Vital, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Oakdale (Conn.) St. Thomas More, picked Kevin Ollie and the Huskies over Louisville.
“Basically [Kevin Ollie], he’s texted me before 9:00 every day this week,” Vital said. “Just letting me know about he Lakers situation and that he loves me and he’s staying at UConn. That really means something to me, to have that kind of relationship with the head coach, knowing he has a million things to do.”
Vital’s comments reveal exactly why teams are interested in Ollie as a head coach. You can see the way he is able to interact and build relationships with his players, but this certainly is not good news for the Lakers.
Of course, a lucrative contract may be able to sway Ollie and bring him to Los Angeles, but as of right now, it seems that the team can scratch him off their list. But in this industry, you never know when something can take a rapid turn.
As for the Lakers, their top two options are still available to pursue. Game 1 between the Spurs and Thunder starts tomorrow, and it is unlikely that the Lakers would be able to interview Messina during the series. Walton, on the other hand, is still waiting to see who the Warriors will even play in their next series. The Portland Trail Blazers can close out their series with the Los Angeles Clippers tonight with a win, which would mean that the Warriors would be back in action on Sunday.
So far, it is not publicly known if the Lakers have actually interviewed Walton or Messina, though they have permission to do so. They certainly have some time to weigh their options, but as we now see with Ollie, waiting too long can come back to bite you.