The Los Angeles Lakers' front office, led by general manager Mitch Kupchak, has been active over the past few weeks getting the roster ready for next season. Yet, the team still remains without a head coach to lead that group of players.
Usually franchises like to get a coach in place before free agency begins to potentially help with the recruitment of players. The Lakers have taken the opposite approach and there's still no definitive word on who's going to fill the void.
Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News reported the team was finally trending toward making a choice but were planning to finish making moves first:
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
Obviously one of the key determinations is figuring out how a coach would coexist with Kobe Bryant, who remains the face of the franchise. Weighing that against the team's desire to find somebody capable of leading the team through a transition period is a tricky task.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles passed along comments from Kupchak about the extended process. He joked they might wait until September to make a final decision before stating a few weeks is a more likely timeline:
Maybe we can wait until September. Obviously that's one of the next things that we're going to address, and with putting the roster together and getting through the draft and getting through this last period, a week or two, the next thing we're going to work on is the coach, and I think we're going to have somebody in the next couple weeks.
Is Byron Scott the right fit for the Lakers?
The report states that despite the fact it sounds like the Lakers are closing in on an announcement, a decision still hasn't been made. They are going through more interviews and presumed favorite Byron Scott would likely need to go through another discussion with the team.
In other words, the two-week approximation could still be moved back if the Lakers aren't convinced Scott or another one of the options is the perfect fit. Mike Dunleavy, Kurt Rambis, Alvin Gentry, Lionel Hollins and possibly George Karl are listed as other candidates by ESPN Los Angeles.
If it was up to Bryant the decision would have already been made. Sean Lewis of the Associated Press provided remarks from the Lakers stalwart, who said he's developed a strong relationship with Scott over the years:
He was my rookie mentor when I first came in the league, so I had to do things like get him doughnuts and run errands for him, things like that. We've had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years.
Although nothing has happened to suggest Scott no longer deserves front-runner status, the fact the Lakers are continuing with the interview process raises questions. Most notably those surrounding what more he could say at this point to convince the team brass that he's the right man for the job.
Darius Soriano of Forum Blue and Gold suggests the delay could mean he's not the first choice:
Still feels like Byron Scott is the fallback plan. Could still be the hire, but my sense there’s another guy they are debating internally.— Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold) July 15, 2014
Either way, the Lakers remain the only team in the NBA without a head coach and they've been without one for quite some time, as Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles notes:
The Lakers have been without a head coach for 75 days and counting.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) July 14, 2014
Ultimately, it would still be a surprise if someone other than Scott gets the job. The lack of overall efficiency in reaching that or another conclusion is going to lead to plenty of questions for both the new coach and the front office once a decision is finally made.
Between the drawn-out process to hire a new coach and the inability to attract top free agents, it hasn't been a banner offseason for the Lakers. They will have cap flexibility moving forward, but more successful summers are a must to get back in title contention.