If the Los Angeles Lakers hire Lionel Hollins as their next head coach, they won't get a guy with the ties to franchise history they want. But they might get the capable, hard-driving coach they need to take them into the future.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Hollins has emerged as a candidate for the Lakers' coaching job, and team management plans to interview him later this week.
Hollins' exit from Memphis after the 2012-13 season was ugly, and at the time, it seemed like his stodgy adherence to old-school principles and resistance to the front office's analytical bent made his firing a foregone conclusion.
He took a lot of the heat—perhaps unfairly.
Trouble in Memphis? Is anyone surprised. They let Lionel Hollins go after making the WC Finals. And now another mess brewing. Ridiculous.— Sekou Smith (@SekouSmithNBA) May 19, 2014
Ex Griz coach Lionel Hollins tells @myfoxmemphis he was hurt by dismissal. “I felt that I was wronged but it doesn’t matter Life isn't fair”— Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBeat) February 18, 2014
Hollins: I could take being fired. I could take them not wanting me. I couldn’t take them trying to destroy my reputation and credibility.— Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBeat) February 18, 2014
The Lakers would be wise to give him a chance, if only because he's had more recent success than either Byron Scott or Mike Dunleavy, two coaches with Purple and Gold connections but few recent wins.
Hollins' career winning percentage is .516, and while Scott and Dunleavy have both made the NBA Finals in the past, both are also below the .500 mark for their careers.
There's a case to be made for all three candidates, but Hollins' recent track record makes him look like a pretty strong option.
It's also worth considering which head coach might mesh best with Kobe Bryant because, well...because getting along with Bryant will always be a key concern for any incoming Lakers employee. Hollins is a no-nonsense workaholic who prepares like crazy and pays attention to detail. If Bryant is serious about making another run, he could do a lot worse than pairing up with a like-minded coach.
One thing to watch for, though, is Hollins' defensive mentality not working out with the current Lakers personnel. Bryant isn't much of a defender anymore, and Steve Nash never was. Robert Sacre is basically a big body whose chief use is towel-waving.
And that's pretty much it, as far as next year's certain roster spots go.
So unless the Lakers devote a whole heap of free-agent dollars to defenders, Hollins could find himself without the kind of roster he wants.
I'm guessing he'd put that reservation aside pretty quickly if the Lakers actually made a job offer.
LA has plenty to consider as it embarks on a strange period between its recent dominance and whatever the next era of Lakers basketball brings. But it's encouraging to see the franchise moving away from legacy hires and toward guys who'd actually be good at the job.