With Luke Walton having been officially hired as the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, the focus has now shifted on his eventual coaching staff. As a young and relatively inexperienced head coach, having experienced and knowledgeable assistants becomes even more crucial for Walton.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical, the first and most prominent name on the list of candidates is Brian Shaw. Shaw is a former Laker player and served as the lead assistant under Phil Jackson for the last few years of his tenure while Walton was still a member of the team.
This rumor is not surprising in the least. Shaw’s relationship with the Lakers and with Walton in particular has always made him a leading candidate to become an assistant under the new head coach.
Wojnarowski does report, however, that team owner and president Jim Buss may be opposed to hiring Shaw due to his loyalty with Jackson. That may have been a major factor in resisting the hiring of Shaw as the head coach after Jackson’s retirement following the 2010-2011 season.
Shaw’s sole stint as a head coach occurred in Denver and ended disastrously. Not only was the team not good, but Shaw had trouble relating to and communicating with its young roster, resorting to books about millenials (no, really) in order to improve. That may be some cause for concern as the Lakers have an even younger squad. However, in a role as an assistant, Shaw’s inability to communicate with young players will not be as accentuated as it was as the lead man. Additionally, Shaw was often highly regarded as an assistant in both LA and Indiana.
What Shaw can bring to a role as an assistant is valuable experience as an assistant under both Jackson and Frank Vogel in addition to his head coaching tenure with the Nuggets. While Walton has stated that he wishes to implement a Warriors-like offensive system in LA, he can more easily add Triangle sets and nuances with Shaw on board, if he wishes to do so.
There is still a lot of time for Walton to assemble his coaching staff and it likely will not even begin until the Warriors’ postseason ends. There are plenty of names on the market that could be interesting. But regardless of how the rest of the staff lines up, there is a fairly high chance that Brian Shaw will be involved in some way.