ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith said Tuesday on First Take that the Los Angeles Lakers are going to target the Los Angeles Clippers' Doc Rivers to become their new head coach after projecting current boss Luke Walton to take over the UCLA Bruins program.
Smith noted other potential targets for the Lakers include Duke Blue Devils legend Mike Krzyzewski, former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson and Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd, who's coached the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks:
"Probably not Ty Lue. ... Ty Lue would like the job, I just want to let you know, Ty Lue would like the job. He doesn't want to be an assistant, his health is good. He would like the job, if it were offered to him. But I'm also hearing that Doc Rivers may potentially be pursued. And obviously the one guy that Magic and LeBron would love most is Mike Krzyzewski, but nobody thinks that that's a job that he would ever taken. Those are the three names you need to keep an eye on."
"... Add Mark Jackson to that list as well, because there are people who think he warrants consideration, and Jason Kidd. Okay. Those are the five names, you got Ty Lue. You got Doc Rivers. You got Mike Krzyzewski. You got Mark Jackson. You got Jason Kidd. Those are the names you're hearing. I'm hearing more so Doc Rivers."
If Walton, who graduated from Arizona, doesn't opt to leave for UCLA, his chances of returning to the Lakers for another season are diminishing. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Sunday the "prevailing assumption in league coaching circles remains that Walton will almost certainly be dismissed after the season."
It's not a shocking revelation with the Lakers now 5.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference despite adding LeBron James in the offseason.
Walton's father, Bill Walton, starred at UCLA under John Wooden in the early 1970s, leading the Bruins to back-to-back national championships in 1972 and 1973.
Meanwhile, the Lakers' coaching search will likely revolve around finding a coach who can mesh with James as they begin the hunt for more superstars to play alongside the four-time NBA MVP.
Krzyzewski forged a strong relationship with LeBron during the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, both of which resulted in United States winning gold medals. In November, James suggested he hoped Coach K was still leading the Duke program when his 14-year-old son, Bronny, reaches college:
It's hard to imagine any scenario where the winningest coach in college basketball history leaves the Blue Devils for the Lakers.
The other four names mentioned by Smith are more realistic targets, though Rivers agreed to a contract extension with the Clippers in May that links him to the team through the 2020-21 season.
All told, it's setting up to become another summer of major change in L.A. unless the Lakers make a late surge into the postseason. It sounds like a coaching switch will be a key part of the overhaul.