Lakers Rumors: Monty Williams Favorite Amid Concerns of Ty Lue, LeBron Pairing

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2019

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 15:  Head coach Tyronn Lue (L) of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks with LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers after a quarterfinal game of the 2018 NBA Summer League between the Lakers and the Detroit Pistons at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 15, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 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 License Agreement.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams may be emerging as the favorite to land the Los Angeles Lakers' head coaching vacancy. 

The Los Angeles Times' Broderick Turner reported Tuesday that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka was set to meet with Williams about the job. According to the New York Times' Marc Stein, Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard and former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue are in the hunt as well.

Generally, who you know can be very valuable when looking to land a new gig; the exact opposite might be true for Williams in this case. Stein wrote there's a sense that "Williams has a stronger-than-expected shot at the job because some in the Lakers' organization may fear hiring Lue would be giving LeBron too much control."

Lue coached James for four seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers. For the first year and a half, Lue was an assistant to David Blatt. He then succeeded Blatt as head coach in January 2016.

It would seemingly make sense to hire a head coach who has a strong relationship with your best player. Lue and James combined to bring a title to the Cavs in 2016, so the pairing has experienced success at the highest level.

Having said that, Magic Johnson's sudden departure created a major power vacuum in the Lakers' front office—one that James could exploit for better or worse. Nobody expected Johnson to step down as president of basketball operations earlier this month.

ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne reported Pelinka was not only safe as the team's general manager but that "his power will grow."

According to Stein, some inside the league are happy the Lakers aren't prioritizing Johnson's replacement over finding a new head coach: "In numerous rival organizations, there is both shock and relief that the Lakers haven't responded to events of the past week by chasing the likes of Golden State's Bob Myers, San Antonio's R.C. Buford and Oklahoma City's Sam Presti before they go looking for a new coach."

In an interview with Sports Illustrated's Michael Shapiro, former Cavs GM David Griffin said the speculation about James' influence within Cleveland's organization was a bit overblown. Griffin explained the team would consult with other veterans on the team to solicit their opinions about personnel moves.

The Lakers are somewhat different situation, though. In addition to James, the Cavaliers had two other All-Stars, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, on the roster. Los Angeles, on the other hand, has one player (James) who's older than 24 under contract for next season.

In short, the team might lack the experienced voices who could serve as an effective counterweight to James on basketball matters if there's a difference of opinion. The pendulum would then conceivably swing even more in LeBron's favor with Lue in the fold.

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