The two most desirable head coaching jobs in the NBA are vacant. The New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers have an empty seat on their bench, but the New York Knicks have already shown their cards with all of the rumors surrounding Steve Kerr and Phil Jackson frequently meeting together. Kerr is familiar with the Zen Master’s philosophy on how to play basketball and on how to run the triangle offense, so it is only a matter of time before the Knicks new general manager holds a press conference introducing Steve Kerr as the next head coach of the New York Knicks.
The Los Angeles Lakers, on the other hand, are still in the process of searching for a head coach. It was a little over one week ago that former head coach Mike D’Antoni resigned as head coach of the Lakers. D’Antoni was still under contract with the Lakers, but it was clear that the pressure got to him and that he was practically forced out of Los Angeles when they did not offer to extend his contract. Furthermore, when Magic Johnson and the entire Los Angeles fan base are publicly criticizing you and celebrating your exit, it does not make you feel particularly welcome anymore.
Without an NFL team, Los Angeles is mostly a basketball city (sorry Dodgers, Angels, Galaxy and Kings), so it is safe to say that the head coaching seat for the Los Angeles Lakers is the hottest one in the NBA. And if you can’t take the heat, you need to get out of the city.
As of right now, the Los Angeles Lakers are an incomplete team. After having one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Lakers now have over half the team off the books and have the funds to sign a max contract player next to Kobe Bryant. Additionally, Kobe should be 100% healthy by the start of next season, so there is no reason why the Los Angeles Lakers cannot have one of the biggest turnarounds in NBA history. So, this vacancy is not only of the most prestigious ones in the NBA, but it is also one of the most desirable positions in the NBA. With the right person at the helm, the Lakers could be right back into the playoff and championship mix.
This is a list of the Top 10 most likely candidates for the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching job that could be filled in the next 2-3 weeks.
10 John Calipari
9 Stan Van Gundy
Stan Van Gundy had a messy breakup with the Orlando Magic, but he has been totally content relaxing with his family in sunny Florida. However, the basketball bug in SVG may bite him this summer with the vacancy in Los Angeles. With Dwight Howard out of Los Angeles and the roster starting from scratch, SVG may be more open to coming to Los Angeles than ever before. SVG took the Orlando Magic to the playoffs every year that he was coaching there, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2008-2009. SVG has the experience and the know-how to take a team deep into the playoffs and with his two-year sabbatical he should be fresher than ever to take on one of the most stressful jobs in the NBA.
8 Derek Fisher
7 Roy Williams
6 Kevin Ollie
If Kevin Ollie wants to coach in the NBA, this is the best time to do it. After winning the NCAA tournament this year after just two years of coaching at UCONN, Ollie has proven to be a successful head coach. Additionally, Ollie is familiar with the NBA world. He was a durable role player for 14 years in the NBA. Clearly, Ollie knows how to play the game and how to coach the game. He may have no NBA head coaching experience, but he has all of the potential and talent to be a successful NBA head coach.
5 Lionel Hollins
After winning 56 games and leading them to the Western Conference Finals, Lionel Hollins was fired from the Memphis Grizzlies last year. For some reason, leading the Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals was not enough to bring him back. Hollins has taken the 2013-2014 season off, but he is primed and ready to join the coaching ranks once again. Hollins is a defensive minded coach, which is the exact opposite of Mike D’Antoni, so Hollins could be a good change of scenery for the Los Angeles Lakers who are trying to establish a defensive mindset once again.
4 Mark Jackson
3 Jeff Van Gundy
Jeff Van Gundy has carved out a nice career for himself as a commentator for ESPN, but much like his brother, he has always had the itch to coach. JVG has not coached since 2007 when he was the head coach of the Houston Rockets, but JVG has always been a hot commodity in the NBA and has been patiently waiting for the right situation. Now that one has opened up, this may be the perfect opportunity for JVG to come back to a very good situation.
2 George Karl
There is no more veteran head coach on the free market than George Karl. Karl has never won a Finals, but he does have the credentials and the resume to lead a veteran squad to the playoffs. If the Lakers get a rookie coach for a veteran squad, it could quickly go sour. Karl, on the other hand, is as veteran as it gets. Furthermore, in Karl’s last season, he led the Nuggets to 57 wins and a Coach of the Year award, so Karl has shown that he can win a lot of games, something that the 27-55 Lakers desperately need.
1 Byron Scott
The former Laker has always bled purple and gold even when he was playing for other teams and coaching for other teams. Byron Scott has not coached in the NBA in a couple of years, but he has plenty of head coaching experience and even took the New Jersey Nets to the Finals in back-to-back years. Furthermore, he and Kobe Byrant have a very good relationship, which will bode well for the chemistry of the locker room. Additionally, the city of Los Angeles has a fondness for Byron Scott, so the city will embrace Scott very quickly without being overly reactionary with the signing of someone they are unfamiliar with.