Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz on Team's Pursuit of Kevin Love and New Head Coach

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistMay 25, 2014

SACRAMENTO, CA - APRIL 13: Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves in a game against the Sacramento Kings on April13, 2014 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Even when they miss the postseason altogether, the Los Angeles Lakers never escape the forefront of NBA discussion.

After finishing 27-55, their worst win total since the 1959-60 season, the Lakers are in need of a major face-lift to repair their image. Their resurrection will start with a returning Kobe Bryant and the No. 7 draft pick, but it can't end there.

Like nearly every other NBA team, they have their eyes on Kevin Love, who will reportedly be the latest star to push his way off a squad before his pending free agency. The roster needs a massive overhaul, but the organization also needs a coach to replace the departed Mike D'Antoni.

Here's the latest speculation on what will be a busy offseason in Los Angeles.

Money, Draft Picks and Spare Parts Probably Can't Buy L.A. Love

After years of anticipation, the floodgates have finally opened for a Kevin Love trade.

According to the New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence, the 25-year-old power forward has had enough of Minnesota, where he has played for six seasons with no playoff appearance to show for it:

Kevin Love’s people reiterated to the Timberwolves this past week that they had better trade him or else he’ll leave via free agency when his contract is up after next season. With Love looking to exit, there’s your No. 1 reason the T-wolves have not been able to find a head coach to take over for Rick Adelman. Love wants to play for the Lakers but he’s also open to coming to the Knicks.

Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski also reported that Timberwolves president Flip Saunders is now open to exploring trades for his star player:

For the first time, [Saunders] sounds like looking at deals for [Love] is an option," one rival executive told Yahoo Sports.

The Boston CelticsGolden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns are among many teams determined to make hard runs at trades for Love, league sources said. Boston and Los Angeles plan to make high-lottery picks in the 2014 NBA draft available in offers for Love, sources said.

Although he receives little praise while toiling away on a losing squad, Love established himself as one of the league's best players by averaging 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds per game last season. According to ESPN, he ranked third in both player efficiency rating (PER) and estimated wins added behind Kevin Durant and LeBron James.

2013-14 NBA Leaders
Player Efficiency Rating (PER)Estimated Wins Added (EWA)
1. Kevin Durant (OKC): 29.901. Kevin Durant (OKC): 30.1
2. LeBron James (MIA): 29.402. LeBron James (MIA): 27.3
3. Kevin Love (MIN): 26.973. Kevin Love (MIN): 21.5
4. Anthony Davis (NO): 26.544. Carmelo Anthony (NYK): 20.8
5. DeMarcus Cousins (SAC): 26.185. Stephen Curry (GSW): 18.6

Moving up in the lottery would have done wonders for the Lakers' chance at snagging Love. Minnesota would have salivated at the opportunity to gain a top-three pick in a class containing Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid.

At pick No. 7, however, they're looking at the likes of Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh—all intriguing prospects, but not the centerpiece in a deal for a superstar like Love. Which then brings up the question: what other assets do the Lakers have to give?

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 25:  (L-R) Jordan Hill #27, Robert Sacre #50, Nick Young #0, Wesley Johnson #11 and MarShon Brooks #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers look on during a win over the New York Knicks at Staples Center on March 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, Calif
Harry How/Getty Images

Are the T-Wolves really going to want to rebuild around MarShon Brooks and Nick Young? Other than draft picks, the Lakers have no alluring assets at their disposal.

Unless Minnesota becomes desperate and pawns him off for a discounted price—similar to how the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies in what actually turned out to be a fair deal with brother Marc Gasol's emergence—Los Angeles' best shot at acquiring Love is through free agency next year.

Coaching Hunt

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 19:  Derek Fisher #6 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on in the first half while taking on the San Antonio Spurs in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 19, 2014 in San Antoni
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Lakers are looking for a new head coach to make the 2013-14 season a distant memory. They're keeping their options flexible early in the game.

One of the initial names to pop up was Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Derek Fisher, who played for five Lakers championship squads. The Brooklyn Nets set a precedent last year by hiring Jason Kidd fresh off hanging up his sneakers. A bidding war for analyst Steve Kerr intensified the desire for former players without coaching experience.

But that does not appear to be the path Los Angeles wants to take. Wojnarowski reported on Fox Sports Live that Fisher is not on top of the team's wish list.

That means the Lakers want a battle-tested coach who is well-versed in drawing up plays and managing a locker room. It then shouldn't come as a surprise to see Lionel Hollins mentioned as a possibility, once again courtesy of Wojnarowski.

"Lionel Hollins has emerged as a candidate for the Los Angeles Lakers' coaching job, league sources told Yahoo Sports," Wojnarowski wrote. "Lakers management plans to interview Hollins later this week, league sources said."

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 21:  Head coach Lionel Hollins of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Two of the Western Conference Finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 21, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO US
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Hollins led the Grizzlies to three straight playoff appearances from 2010-11 to 2012-13, including a 2013 trip to the Western Conference Finals that wasn't enough to solidify his job. A defensive-first tactician who ran the offense at a snail's pace, he's the starkest possible contrast to D'Antoni's high-flying offense that resulted in porous defense.

Byron Scott would ultimately be the best man for the job, according to job applicant Byron Scott. He endorsed himself on the Max & Marcellus show on ESPN LA 710 Radio.

"I don't feel I'm a very arrogant guy, but I feel like I am the perfect guy for this job," Scott said. "I got a great relationship with Kobe. I know the team, know the roster. I watched them all season long and I just think it would be a great fit."

Unspectacular names like Hollins or Scott typically don't cut it in Tinseltown, but such a low-key hire may be just what the Lakers need after the flashier D'Antoni signing ended in chaos.