Report: Lakers wanted Kurt Rambis to join Luke Walton’s staff near the end of his tenure

Kurt Rambis
Jan 21, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Knicks associate head coach Kurt Rambis talks with Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton after a game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers were already a mess before Magic Johnson stepped down but in the weeks since their president of basketball operations resigned, the organization has felt even more upheaval. What’s followed has been a power grab of sorts with Rob Pelinka emerging as the lead decision maker but the other voices in the front office – namely Jeanie Buss and Linda and Kurt Rambis – holding weight in all matters.

As it turns out, Kurt Rambis’ ascension in the ranks is not unique to the void left by Magic. The former head coach, executive and wreckless Twitter user has been working as a consultant of sorts with the Lakers all year but was almost forced into a bigger role.

Following via Bill Oram of The Athletic:

They tried to foist [Jason] Kidd on [Tyronn] Lue as an assistant coach, rather than give him the latitude to assemble a staff of his choosing. That’s consistent with the end of Walton’s tenure when, among the issues that led to a breakdown between the sides, the front office preferred that Kurt Rambis be hired as an assistant coach.

So here’s a rough timeline of events.

First, the Lakers, who had been arguing about firing Luke Walton basically since last summer, try to force him to take on Rambis as an assistant coach. This likely came sometime after Pelinka had started sitting on coaching meetings and offering input.

They then fire Walton, who was immediately hired by the Sacramento Kings, amid all sorts of leaks about how they failed him with roster decisions that were made with no input from the head coach.

The team starts its coaching search, led by Pelinka but with input from our main man, Mr. Rambis. They interview four candidates: Jason Kidd, Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue and Monty Williams. The organization is torn between Lue and Williams. Pelinka reportedly prefers Lue (hey, an actual smart thought!) while the Rambii are pushing for Williams. So, Pelinka, considering himself to be a genius, waits it out until Williams is hired by the Suns so that there would be no competition. In doing so, he makes it very clear that Lue was not a consensus choice by the organization.

Lue has a birthday party in Las Vegas with a Lakers-themed cake.

The Lakers, perhaps at the behest of the Rambii, ask Lue to make Kidd (who, again, interviewed for the same job) his associate head coach. Despite having already made plans to hire Frank Vogel to that position, Lue agrees. But the Lakers also insist on offering only a three-year deal – the length of LeBron’s contract – when Lue wants the security of five years. After all, his competitor just signed a five-year deal in Phoenix.

Lue declines the offer and Pelinka sits wondering why anyone would turn him down.

So yeah, Kurt Rambis, despite never once showing any evidence of knowing what he’s doing as a basketball coach or executive continues to have a major role in the Lakers’ day-to-day decisions. Pelinka continues to be made a fool in negotiations. And Jeanie Buss can’t find anyone to stabilize her organization.

The Lakers saved Ty Lue by being cheap. He deserves better than this.

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