The Los Angeles Lakers will be in the market for yet another head coach this summer after Mike D'Antoni resigned. North Carolina head basketball coach Roy Williams has been rumored as a potential candidate, but he quashed that speculation rather emphatically.
“I’ve always felt like that I’m a college coach and that’s where I belong,” Williams said earlier this week on Fox Sports Radio, per Sports Xchange (h/t the Chicago Tribune).
Williams was linked to L.A. via a tweet from the Los Angeles Times’ Mike Bresnahan:
Another name to add to the Lakers' list of coaching candidates: North Carolina's Roy Williams. They plan on talking to him...eventually.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) May 5, 2014
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News added the following insight regarding Lakers general manager (and UNC alum) Mitch Kupchak:
Kupchak loves NC guys. RT @Mike_Bresnahan Another name to add to the Lakers' list of coaching candidates: North Carolina's Roy Williams— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) May 5, 2014
Williams made a point to mention his relationship with Kupchak but maintained that he intends to stay within the collegiate ranks:
Mitch Kupchak is one of my best friends in the whole wide world, there’s no question there, but I’m a college guy and if somebody calls and offers me the greatest job in the world, it better be really good because I feel like I’ve got about the greatest job in the world.
The 63-year-old has never ventured into the NBA, spending his entire coaching career in high school and college. He began his college coaching career as an assistant with UNC from 1978 to 1988. He went on to coach the Kansas Jayhawks from 1988 to 2003 before returning to Chapel Hill.
He’s won two NCAA championships with the Tar Heels—once in 2005 and again in 2009.
Williams certainly isn’t the only college coach to be linked to the Lakers, though.
Per the Los Angeles Times’ Eric Pincus, other candidates include Kentucky’s John Calipari, Florida’s Billy Donovan, Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.
The latter member of that list, Coach K, also shot down rumors of a potential move to the NBA by saying the following, per ESPN’s Arash Markazi:
When I asked him if he'd be interested in leaving Duke and coaching in the NBA he said, "I'm too old to do anything else."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) March 21, 2014
Bringing college coaches up to the professional level doesn’t always yield positive results. Since the Lakers have no other option but to nail their next coaching hire, a safer choice, like former Coach of the Year Byron Scott, is in the mix.
B/R’s Kevin Ding wrote about that possibility as follows:
Scott’s ability to project confidence and communicate clearly would be big after D’Antoni failed in those areas. It’s common that the strengths of replacement coaches fall where their predecessors were lacking, and if he fits into any particular category as a coach, Scott actually views himself to be a rebuilding specialist.
The Lakers have a long way to go before they’re back contending with elite teams within the loaded Western Conference. Williams likely won’t be tabbed as that guy despite the UNC connection unless an offer blows him away.
At this time, Scott and former Lakers role player Derek Fisher seem to be among the front-runners.