The beginning of a new era with the Los Angeles Lakers franchise is well underway. With Pau Gasol leaving for the Chicago Bulls via free agency, the Lakers have Kobe Bryant, Julius Randle and not much else to be excited about next season.
The team still has to fill the rest of its roster slots. In the rough-and-tumble Western Conference, the playoffs are far from a certainty.
The Next Head Coach
Perhaps the next order of business should be hiring a head coach. Per Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News, the decision on the team's next sideline leader could be coming up soon.
I'm told Lakers finalizing coaching search is "on the near horizon". But Lakers going to finish up last few bits of free agency first— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 12, 2014
Rumors have circulated that former Laker Byron Scott is the front-runner for the job, but until something is official, this is just another uncertainty for the franchise.
Kobe Bryant has already given his endorsement for Scott, so that's a solid sign.
Per ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin, Bryant said:
He was my rookie mentor when I first came into the league. So I had to do things like get his doughnuts and run errands for him and things like that. We've had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years. So, obviously I know him extremely well. He knows me extremely well. I've always been a fan of his.
A new coach's success is directly tied into his star player's buy-in, so Scott would have a nice head start on rebuilding the Lakers.
Per Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Lakers are among a group of teams to show a slight interest in signing Lance Stephenson. Deveney writes:
Several teams mentioned in connection with Stephenson, including Boston, Chicago and the Lakers, have not been serious in their pursuit, the source said, while others could register late interest. Perhaps now that the team has lost out on Carmelo Anthony, and Gasol has bolted for the Bulls, that interest should be raised for Stephenson.
While the 23-year-old does have character concerns, there's no doubting his talent. He can play either the 2-guard or small forward position, and he has the intensity necessary to coexist with Bryant.
Stephenson could benefit from having Bryant mentor him, much like Scott helped a young Mamba.
Steve Nash Coming Back
The Lakers need bodies, but keeping Nash seems pointless. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times breaks down the situation facing the Lakers and Nash.
I'm told the Lakers keep Nash for now. They have until September to decide whether to waive him and stretch his $9.7-mill salary over 3 yrs— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) July 11, 2014
While Nash is still skilled, he's 40 years old, and injuries have ravaged his last three seasons. With the team truly heading into a new era, there's no reason to keep Nash around as an oft-injured veteran presence.
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