The Los Angeles Lakers still aren't anywhere close to hiring a head coach for the 2014-15 season, but one candidate is moving along in the process.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, Mike Dunleavy has now conducted a formal interview with general manager Mitch Kupchak:
Dunleavy is one of many candidates for this highly coveted job. Plenty of names have been floated around since Mike D'Antoni officially left the sidelines of the Staples Center, and they include quite a few different types.
There are big names like John Calipari and Lionel Hollins. Byron Scott is an underrated option. Even Derek Fisher could get some play after he and the Oklahoma City Thunder are done pursuing their dreams of a Larry O'Brien Trophy.
But unless there were interviews conducted behind the scenes, Dunleavy is the first to get as far as a formal meeting with the GM. Remember, Kupchak was interviewed by Lakers.com's Mike Trudell a while ago and had this to say:
Although I won’t rule out hiring a coach prior to the lottery on May 20, I think it’s likely that we don’t, because that’s really the first step in terms of additional information for this franchise. Let’s find out what kind of pick we have. That may even help us decide what direction to go with for our coach. It will be a consideration.
Well, the lottery has come and gone.
The Lakers are the proud owners of the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, and it didn't take long for them to act after they found that out. Apparently they're targeting one of the better offensive minds on the market, as well as a head coach with plenty of experience.
As Brett Pollakoff writes for NBC Sports, this is also a move that would be all about the present:
For the Lakers, the hiring of Dunleavy would be a short-term move aimed at trying to win now while Kobe Bryant remains on the roster. Bryant has two years left on his deal, and the only way the hiring of an aging coach like Dunleavy would make sense is if L.A. is somehow able to re-load with a ton of talent this summer, to the point where the Lakers are able to elevate themselves to the level of contenders once again,
Dunleavy has coached the Lakers before (for two seasons in the early 1990s), and he steered them into the Western Conference Finals during his first year in charge. Of course, he also had the luxury of coaching Magic Johnson and James Worthy that campaign, so take it with a grain of salt.
He also spent a significant amount of time with the Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers (with whom he was named Coach of the Year in 1999) and Los Angeles Clippers, but he's been out of work since the 2009-10 season.
Is that about to change?
Lakers fans should hope not. There are plenty of better options out there, particularly if the Purple and Gold wish to hire a head coach who can not only aid Kobe Bryant's championship chase over the next two years, but also help usher in the post-Mamba era shortly thereafter.
Nonetheless, Dunleavy seems to be leading the early portion of the race to sit on the Lakers sideline. Just remember this process is bound to be a marathon, not a sprint. There's no urgency coming from the Lakers front office.