Ever so slowly, the Los Angeles Lakers front office is moving toward hiring the organization's next head coach.
All but two of the NBA teams with head-coaching vacancies over the offseason have filled the spot, with the Lakers and Cavaliers as the lone teams without a front man ever since the Knicks hired Derek Fisher. Despite moving slowly, L.A. has seemingly started to narrow down the search to a short list and even interviewed one candidate for the second time.
Let's get right to it and break down the latest Lakers coaching reports.
List of Candidates Down to 3
After weeks and weeks of feeling out the coaching market, conversing with some top targets and eliminating others, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak looks to be circling around three names to fill the vacant spot.
According to Bleacher Report's Howard Beck, those three are Kurt Rambis, Alvin Gentry and Byron Scott:
Another Jackson loyalist, Kurt Rambis, could join the Knicks as Fisher's lead assistant. However, Rambis also remains a favorite for the Lakers' head-coaching position, according to league sources. The Lakers have interviewed at least a half-dozen coaches, but sources say they are focused on three primary candidates: Rambis, Alvin Gentry and Byron Scott.
Of course, this long, drawn-out process has involved Kupchak and the Lakers reaching out to some popular, home run-hire names like John Calipari, Kevin Ollie, Jeff Van Gundy and more, per the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan.
But this list of Rambis, Gentry and Scott more resembles the type of names that the Lakers can realistically work with.
Rambis and Scott have fond memories of playing for the Lakers in the Showtime days, and Gentry has been looking for a new head-coaching gig ever since the Suns parted ways with him in 2013. None of the three will be the big splash that many expected when Mike D'Antoni left L.A., but each of them has a proven track record that suggests he could lead the Lakers back to the promised land.
Reasoning Behind Slow-Moving Search?
Many expected the Lakers' coaching search to ramp up significantly after they found out where they landed in the draft lottery, but not much has changed since L.A. was given the seventh overall pick.
A potential reason as to why has come out, and it surrounds a scenario that the Lakers are far from in control of. USA Today's Sam Amick reported Tuesday that the Lakers have "deliberately" slowed down the process to better their chances in the upcoming free-agency period:
The slow pace of the Lakers' coaching search that began April 30 when Mike D'Antoni resigned has been timed deliberately with the upcoming free agency period in the NBA, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Specifically, the idea that the Lakers could beat the odds and land the likes of the Heat's LeBron James, the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony or any of the other superstars who may be free agents on July 1 has led the Lakers to plod through their process so as to not limit their potential options. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the search.
Well, then. That would indeed explain a lot.
The prospect of landing either LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony—or both—in free agency would be the dream scenario of all dream scenarios for the Lakers to pair up with Kobe Bryant in the twilight of his career. There's little doubt about that. But in many ways, it's just that—a dream.
James has made four Finals in four years in Miami, and even if the Heat come up short against San Antonio this year, he has two rings to remind him of the success there.
Anthony might seek greener pastures than New York, but a bombshell report from ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein states the Heat are courting Melo to South Beach. That could end up as a more viable option than both James and Anthony heading out west and trying to jam their contracts along with Bryant's two years and nearly $50 million upcoming.
The idea of pitching James and/or Anthony that they can land a top coach after their arrival could be genius—if it works. Then again, Kupchak has kept even Kobe out of the coaching search, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
Of course, if Kupchak is able to shock the sports world and pair up Bryant and Anthony or Bryant and James or, by some odd measure, unite all three, there's a decent chance that the list of interested coaches would balloon and some household names would become more willing to leave their post.
Byron Scott Gets First Follow-Up Visit
In this slow-moving process, the Lakers have only formally interviewed five candidates according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin. All of them have only been interviewed once, seemingly as more of exploratory talks than serious ones—given the nature of the search.
Except Byron Scott.
The following tweet from ESPN's Chris Broussard noted Scott got the first second visit of the Lakers' search:
Sources: 2day Byron Scott met with Lakers for 2nd time to discuss head coaching position. Scott is only coach so far to have 2 interviews— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 11, 2014
The Lakers organization is plenty educated on Scott from his 11 years as a player for the Showtime-era L.A. squad, and he even played with current star player Kobe Bryant in his last season as a pro. He's also made it no secret that he wants the job, as he told USA Today's Sam Amick.
Of course, skeptics of Scott will point to some of his struggles as a head coach—his up-and-down career at New Orleans and a quick flameout with an under-talented Cleveland Cavaliers roster. When a contending roster surrounds him, though, he's paid dividends as a coach, leading the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals in the early 2000s.
If Scott ends up landing the job, it might not come with a 100 percent approval rating. But considering his relationship with Bryant, his history with the organization and the experience of winning with championship talent, the potential is certainly there.