Lakers Head Coach Rumors: LA to Interview J.B. Bickerstaff for Vacant Position

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 10, 2019

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 23: Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff of the Memphis Grizzlies argues a call during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on February 23, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Grizzlies 112-107. 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 Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers will interview ex-Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff for the team's open head-coaching position on Friday, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles also interviewed former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel on Thursday.

Bickerstaff, 40, has a  head-coaching record of 85-131 over three seasons. He led the 2015-16 Rockets to a 37-34 finish after taking over for the fired Kevin McHale, and the team's 41-41 overall record was good enough for a Western Conference playoff spot. 

Bickerstaff, who coached the Rockets on an interim basis, was let go after the season for Mike D'Antoni. He then joined David Fizdale's staff in Memphis as the team's associate head coach for a year-plus. After Fizdale was fired following a 7-12 start, Bickerstaff took over a rebuilding team whose "Grit and Grind" days were long gone. The Grizz finished 22-60, but Bickerstaff was kept on as the head coach.

The 2018-19 season started in promising fashion with Memphis going 12-5 in its first 17 games, but the team slumped to below .500 in early January and finished 33-49. In fairness to Bickerstaff, 28 players suited up for Memphis, so finding a consistent rotation throughout the year was a near-impossible task. In fact, only one player (Mike Conley) took part in more than 58 games.

Bickerstaff's record may not be impressive, but he deserves a chance with a team that isn't in flux. His two coaching opportunities came after early-season firings, forcing him into tough positions.

The issue is the Lakers are in flux, to put it mildly.

Magic Johnson stepped down as president of basketball operations in April without telling anyone, including owner Jeanie Buss. Then the team only offered primary head-coaching candidate Tyronn Lue a three-year deal, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Ex-Lakers coach Luke Walton got a five-year contract.

Simply put, Los Angeles is in turmoil, and the next head coach may be entering an unideal situation.


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