Redick to Los Angeles roundtable: NBA insiders on the Lakers' new coaching hire (2024)

  • ESPN Insiders

Jun 21, 2024, 03:00 AM

The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to a deal to hire JJ Redick as the franchise's next coach, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, ending a drawn-out search for one of the NBA's premier jobs.

Redick will get a four-year deal and will now be in charge of leading LeBron James toward what will likely be a final push for an NBA title.

The Lakers fired Darvin Ham after the team was eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs by the Denver Nuggets. Redick, a 15-year NBA veteran who served as an ESPN analyst this season and co-hosts a podcast with James, was among the names immediately linked to the opening.

After Ham's dismissal, the Lakers pursued UConn coach Dan Hurley and offered a six-year, $70 million contract -- which Hurley turned down to stay with the Huskies and pursue a third straight national championship.

Redick, 39, will take over one of the most scrutinized positions in the NBA despite no previous coaching experience. The Lakers have not had a coach stay for more than three years since Phil Jackson's 11-season tenure that included five NBA titles. Since Jackson's retirement in 2011, the Lakers have made six coaching hires prior to Redick.

What should we expect from Redick's hiring? Will it affect the Lakers' draft and free agency strategies? Our NBA insiders answer the top questions and what it means.

Redick to Los Angeles roundtable: NBA insiders on the Lakers' new coaching hire (1)

1. This hiring is ___?

Brian Windhorst: High risk/high reward. The Lakers are gambling on a high-potential candidate with zero coaching experience but one who has a relationship with their franchise player. The pool of options was shallow and the Lakers clearly had a budget. Their hiring process included several meetings with Redick that led them to this intersection. Maybe they've identified a coaching star and gotten in on the ground level. Maybe they've entrusted the end of LeBron's career to a coach bound to have a rough learning curve. Either way, it'll be entertaining.

Kevin Pelton: Not the Lakers' most important decision this offseason. As much as I respect Redick's basketball acumen, the biggest issue for the Lakers ever since the Russell Westbrook trade in 2021 has been finding enough capable two-way players to surround James and Anthony Davis. Unless Redick is hopping into a time machine, hiring him doesn't solve that problem.

Ramona Shelburne: A coup for the Lakers. Redick has been approached by several teams over the past few years for assistant and head-coaching roles. He also could have waited for a less pressurized job. Much like Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors a decade ago, Redick had the luxury of time and options before making this kind of leap, and he chose the Lakers -- one of the most iconic franchises in the league with a soon-to-be 40-year-old James as its leader. The seat will be warm as soon as he takes it.

Bobby Marks: A fresh perspective. The Lakers broke the norm of hiring a former head coach or up-and-coming assistant coach. Redick is an out-of-the-box hire, especially for a team that is one year removed from reaching the Western Conference finals and still has James and Davis on its roster. But despite his inexperience, Redick can lean on his relationship with his former coach at Duke, Mike Krzyzewski, and the past few years analyzing games on television, along with his popular podcast. There is nothing more valuable than to sit with a head coach pre-game and dissect the scouting report of that team.

Dave McMenamin: Forward thinking. Redick is someone who can grow in the job for the changing seasons to come for the Lakers' franchise. The task begins for him with maximizing the twilight of LeBron James' and Anthony Davis' partnership, but will soon shift to revolving a team around Davis and, before long, taking command of a completely new roster that will require vision from its coach to compete in the ever-changing NBA.

2. Redick's first priority should be ___?

Windhorst: Getting GM Rob Pelinka to find him some defensive wing players. Ham was heavily criticized for his rotations and leaning on certain players -- but mostly did it in part because his perimeter defensive options were weak. The Lakers need some roster upgrades but don't have the best options with a big payroll, limited draft picks and few trade assets.

Shelburne: Jumping into the draft and free agency war room so he can have influence on this year's roster. Redick has had long enough to know what kind of offense and defense he wants to run, with James and Davis as the linchpins. But surrounding them with the right kind of players will be essential to his success, and there's very little time left to debate.

Redick to Los Angeles roundtable: NBA insiders on the Lakers' new coaching hire (2)play

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Marks: There are two for me. The first is to get on calls this weekend and early next week with the Lakers' first-round draft prospects. With the draft less than a week away, time is running out for Redick to play catch-up. The second and most important is putting together a staff with both veteran experience and a strong player development background. I saw firsthand in 2013 when Brooklyn hired Jason Kidd how important a coaching staff becomes when a first-time head coach inherits a veteran team.

Pelton: Getting buy-in from Davis. I'm assuming that rapport already exists with Redick's podcast partner James, so making Davis buy in on his vision for the team is important.

McMenamin: Redick needs better players. The Lakers' current roster came into last season with championship expectations and flamed out in the first round. First he has to work with the Lakers' front office to get a legitimate big to play alongside Davis and then scour the league for upgrades, through trades or the draft.

3. Ideal No. 1 assistant?

Pelton: I'd look at someone with head-coaching experience, naturally, with whom Redick has history. The two most ideal fits not currently serving as head coaches would be Stan Van Gundy, who's working as an analyst for TNT, and San Antonio Spurs assistant Brett Brown. One other name that would fit: Monty Williams, who was recently fired by the Detroit Pistons and worked with Redick during his year as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers. However, given that the Pistons needed to offer Williams the richest contract to date for an NBA head coach to pass on taking a year off, it seems unlikely he's ready to become an assistant right away.

Windhorst: Scott Brooks, a veteran coach from Southern California, will be a candidate. He has head-coaching experience and was recently let go by the Portland Trail Blazers. Not for the No. 1 spot, but former Laker Jared Dudley, who is currently on the Dallas Mavericks' staff, could also be an option.

Shelburne: I'd love to see him call up his first NBA head coach, Stan Van Gundy. They went to the Finals and survived the Dwight Howard drama together. Van Gundy also helped Redick understand his role in the NBA. Plus, there's the added bonus of both Van Gundy's being in Los Angeles, since his brother Jeff accepted a top position on Ty Lue's LA Clippers squad.

McMenamin: Rajon Rondo. The two-time champion has the respect of LeBron when it comes to his basketball acumen, but even more importantly, has a rapport with the Lakers' best player, Anthony Davis. After stints as teammates in both New Orleans and L.A., there are few players in Davis' career whom he trusted more on the court and respected for their ability to game-manage. Davis is 12 seasons in and at a stage of his career when pursuing another championship is paramount and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who can strategize in the postseason -- opponent to opponent, round through round -- the way Rondo can.

Marks: The Lakers could not get Dan Hurley, but how about the man he took over for, Kevin Ollie? As Adrian Wojnarowski reported during the talks with Hurley, the Lakers want to prioritize developing their former draft picks (Max Christie and Jalen Hood-Schifino) and the two players they select in next week's draft. Prior to this past season, Ollie was the head coach of Overtime Elite, the player development academy that produced Amen and Ausar Thompson. Besides an acumen in player development, Ollie played 14 seasons in the NBA and was also the interim head coach in Brooklyn last season.

4.Fact or fiction: Redick will be the first Lakers coach since Phil Jackson to last more than three years?

Pelton: I'd say fact based on the possibility that at some point, as James ages, expectations for the Lakers will become more realistic. We know that salary is a concern for the Lakers based on their inability to offer Hurley enough to lure him from UConn, so eventually they may no longer want to pay so many coaches not to work for them.

Windhorst: Fact. If this hire fails, Pelinka's job itself might be on the line, so Redick will probably have more leeway than what Frank Vogel and Ham got. It might be too generous to assume, but with this type of hire, the Lakers are accepting the reality that Redick will need to be afforded the opportunity to fail and then learn.

Redick to Los Angeles roundtable: NBA insiders on the Lakers' new coaching hire (3)play

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Shelburne: Fact. If Redick hires the right staff and builds a bond with Anthony Davis, he can be very successful in L.A. If he doesn't, this could go sideways fast. But he knows what he's signing up for, and has plenty of time to weigh the situation.

Marks: Fact. Eventually there has to be some self-reflection for the Lakers in which they realize they don't have a championship roster. If you want further proof, just look at last year when James and Davis played the most games together as teammates, and the Lakers still lost in the first round. There has to be a plan in place where winning is a priority but that also considers the bigger picture: what a post-LeBron roster looks like.

McMenamin: Fact. Pat Riley coached the Lakers from his mid 30s to his mid 40s before moving on to the New York Knicks and Miami Heat. The Lakers hope they have another Riles in Redick, someone whose force of personality can establish a culture for a team that hasn't committed to a coach with that type of influence since Phil Jackson stepped away in 2011.

5. Where do the Lakers finish next year? Playoffs, play-in or bust?

Pelton: Based on reasonable health, the Lakers slot behind Dallas, Denver, Minnesota and Oklahoma City in some order. That leaves them fighting for one of two remaining likely spots in the top six, with the play-in a likely outcome.

Windhorst: They have finished in the top six in the West exactly once in the past 12 seasons. If they do so and make the playoffs, it's an unqualified success. But in all honesty, this isn't a question for June 20, it's a question for July 20 when all the moves have been made.

Shelburne: The Lakers won more games last season than they did when they went to the Western Conference Finals. The West was better this year, so the Lakers finished lower in the standings. On top of that, they had to play the defending champion Nuggets in the first round. Barring any major trades or injuries I'd put them at about the same place as last season.

Marks: Play-in. But there's an argument they land out of the top 10. A new James contract and Russell opting in or re-signing has the Lakers returning the same team but at a significantly higher cost. Los Angeles is not only a luxury tax team a fifth consecutive year but over the second apron if they bring back restricted free agent Max Christie. If the Grizzlies can remain healthy and the Rockets take another step, we could see the Lakers in the lottery next season.

McMenamin: If everything goes right, you're looking at a team that should have a chance at the fifth or sixth seed, considering its reliance on a 21-year veteran as one of its primary sources of production and the landscape of the rest of the West. However, we know how rare it is for everything to go right. So I'll say the play-in is where they'll end up, once again.

Redick to Los Angeles roundtable: NBA insiders on the Lakers' new coaching hire (2024)
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