LA Lakers: Brian Shaw and 5 Potential Candidates to Replace Phil Jackson

Matt FaulconerFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2011

LA Lakers: Brian Shaw and 5 Potential Candidates to Replace Phil Jackson

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    LOS ANGELES - APRIL 18:  Assistant coach Brian Shaw of the Los Angeles Lakers gives instructions against the Oklahoma City Thunder during  Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs on April 18, 2010 at Staples Center in Los
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Lakers were finally put out of their misery today by the Dallas Mavericks, as Dallas absolutely destroyed them to complete the sweep.

    Unfortunately for one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Phil Jackson's team was embarrassed in his final game as head coach for the Lakers.

    Jackson will retire with 11 NBA Championships and over 1,000 wins, while boasting a win percentage of just over 70 percent.

    To be completely frank, Jackson is irreplaceable.  One could argue that he is the best coach of all-time, and has had without a doubt a Hall of Fame career.  However, the Lakers will spend this offseason looking for someone to replace Jackson.

    It is a tough task for any team to find their head coach of the future, but to find the successor to Phil Jackson is a daunting task.  The next coach will come in with higher expectations than any other coach of the last ten years.

    There are plenty of good basketball coaches, but these are the five most likely candidates to replace Phil Jackson.

5. Mike Krzyzewski

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils reacts while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, Nor
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    It is definitely a bit of a stretch, but Krzyzewski's name was floated the last time the Lakers had a coaching vacancy, so there is a chance his name is floated again this time around.

    There isn't much of a chance that Coack K leaves Duke University, but if he were interested in the Lakers job, I don't think the Lakers' front office would hesitate to offer him a job.

    Krzyzewski is one of the greatest college coaches of all-time, but the chance to see if he can be successful at the NBA level may be tempting to him after losing star players Kyrie Irving, Kyle Singler, and Nolan Smith to the NBA.

    Krzyzewski would definitely help the Lakers, as the team needs to show much more intensity on the defensive side of the ball.  They struggled in their series against the Mavericks to defend much of anybody, so adding Krzyzewski's fiery attitude about defense would certainly help out a lot.

    Again, any chance of Coach K landing with the Lakers hinges on Krzyzerski.  If he realizes that there is nothing else left to accomplish at Duke, he may finally be lured to the NBA.

4. John Calipari

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 02:  Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts from the sidelines against the Connecticut Huskies during the National Semifinal game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Reliant Stadium on April 2
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    John Calipari will have no problem leaving for greener pastures if the LA Lakers are interested in his services.  Calipari has a championship caliber team at Kentucky, but he has been in trouble multiple times with the NCAA, so his time may be running thin at the NCAA level.

    Add that to the fact that Calipari has been rumored to want back in the NBA game according to a New York Daily News source, and there will certainly be some offseason speculation about Calipari heading back to the NBA.

    Calipari's last stint in the NBA didn't work out too well, so it remains to be seen if the Lakers would have any interest in the University of Kentucky head coach.  However, if they are looking to make a splash and bring in a flashy, young coach, Calipari would be the perfect choice.

    Chances are the Lakers look to a coach who has had a bit more success as a coach, rather than as a recruiter.

3. Nate McMillan

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    PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 14:  Head coach Nate McMillan of the Portland Trail Blazers during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 14, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 115-111. NOTE TO USER: User ex
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The current head coach of the Portland Trailblazers has been rumored to be a target of the Los Angeles Lakers to replace Jackson.  ESPN's Marc Stein reported back in March that the Lakers are going to pursue McMillan, and thus the reason the Portland Trail Blazers quickly signed him to a two-year contract extension.

    A simple contract extension of two years has never been enough to keep a coach around longer than he wants to be around in the past, and things won't change this offseason.

    There is sure to be a buyout clause in McMillan's contract, and if the Lakers determine they really want McMillan, they will make sure McMillan is bought out of his contract.

    McMillan has turned the Trail Blazers around in a few years, but they do not compare to the Lakers.  Being offered a coaching job with the Lakers or the Celtics is the pinnacle for any head coach, thus it is hard to imagine McMillan staying in Portland.

    McMillan is only 46 years old, but boasts 10 seasons of coaching experience at the NBA level.  His career winning percentage is only 51 percent, but he has taken Portland to the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.

2. Jeff Van Gundy

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    LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 17:  Head coach Jeff Van Gundy of the Houston Rockets argues a call during the second half of the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on December 17, 2005 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers defeated the
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    It appears the Jeff Van Gundy's name is the popular choice for every team looking for a coach in the offseason.  Van Gundy is an experienced head coach at the NBA level, and has made the playoffs in every season he spent as a head coach except for two years (one of which he resigned just 19 games into the season).

    According to CBS Los Angeles, there have been reports that the Lakers are interested in Van Gundy as Jackson's successor, and there is no question he will be interviewed at some point this offseason.

    It remains to be seen how well Van Gundy would fit in with the Lakers organization though, especially with the team.  Van Gundy learned to coach from some of the best coaches around in Don Nelson, Pat Riley, and Rick Pitino, so there is no question that he has a high basketball IQ.

    However, the Lakers may end up asking themselves if they really want to add a coach who was once attached to Alonzo Mourning's leg during a brawl in the 1998 NBA Playoffs.

1. Brian Shaw

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 29:  Assistant coach Brian Shaw of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts while taking on the San Antonio Spurs in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2008 NBA Playoffs on May 29, 2008 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Brian Shaw has been thought to be the successor to Phil Jackson for quite some time, and that was only enforced after the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up hiring Byron Scott over Brian Shaw last offseason.

    Shaw returned to the Lakers, and it appears that he is the favorite to become the next head coach of the Lakers.  Shaw picked up the biggest endorsement possible when Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports quoted the following statement from Lakers' star player Kobe Bryant,

    "He’s been around Phil for a long time, He has a great deal of knowledge and understands the game. He communicates very well. He’s tough. I think when his time comes he’ll be ready."

    Bryant is right, Shaw has been around Jackson for quite sometime, and there is probably no one better equipped to continue the same system than Brian Shaw.

    With the endorsement of Bryant, it will be tough for the Lakers front office to offer the job to anybody but Shaw.  However, with no head coaching experience, it is a gamble for the Lakers.  While Shaw may be the choice of the players, it remains to be seen what the front office thinks of Shaw's potential as a head coach.