California is the land of opportunity when it comes to NBA head coaching jobs this spring, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors beginning exhaustive searches to find their respective next head coaches. How will the Warriors' vacancy affect the Lakers' pool of choices as the teams ramp up their interview processes over the next month or two? Time will tell, but one thing for sure is that it will be a interesting (and bumpy) ride over the next several weeks.
- Ben Wantanabe of NESN.com believes that if the Lakers were to hire former Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, it could end up being "a crazy idea that just might work."
- Per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, there's one more legendary collegiate coach to add to the list as the Los Angeles Lakers begin to extend their coaching search over the next few weeks: North Carolina's Roy Williams.
- Per his official Twitter account, UConn head coach Kevin Ollie implores Huskies fans not to believe the hype -- denying rumors that there is a "secret" interview set up between himself and the Lakers.
5. Kevin Ollie, UConn Huskies Head Coach
Despite recently denying any link to the vacant Los Angeles Lakers' coaching job, it would be foolish to count Ollie out as a prime contender for the position at this early juncture. In a situation like this where leverage is crucial for Ollie to both to stand out from the mass of candidates lining up and to ensure that he set up to succeed on his terms, it would be smart to resist taking Ollie's words at face value. If Ollie emerges as the prime candidate in the Lakers' eyes, don't be surprised if he is wooed away from Connecticut by the (wait for it) full-court press that Jim Buss and Lakers' management apply.
4. Mark Jackson, Former Golden State Warriors Head Coach
It's impossible to fully divvy out fault when it comes to the end of the dysfunction between Mark Jackson and Golden State Warriors' management. Both sides exhibited massive egos mixed with an unwillingness to compromise -- making for an untenable working situation that may have been doomed from the start. If Mark Jackson can prove a bit more pliable in both his coaching style and his relationships with the executive-tier of the Los Angeles Lakers, there is still a ton of good to be salvaged from one of the premiere players' coaches in today's NBA.
3. Derek Fisher, Oklahoma City Thunder Point Guard
Holding steady at #3 is Kobe Bryant's "favorite teammate" of his career, and more importantly, perhaps his new favorite coach. A return for Derek Fisher to Lakerland in a coaching capacity seems like serendipity if you really think about it. You're guaranteed a motivated Kobe, a good shot at retaining Gasol at a small discount, a name which will attract a potential top-tier free agent or two -- and you have Kurt Rambis on staff to make the transition that much easier.
2. Tom Thibodeau, Chicago Bulls Head Coach
Speaking of serendipity, the probability of Tom Thibodeau finding a way out of a contentious work environment in Chicago is raising by the moment. Thibs has been linked to both the Lakers' and Warriors' openings, and it would be shocking if both Bulls' management and Tom Thibodeau balked at the chance of ending things in a way that ends up as beneficial for all parties involved. Kobe's respect for Thibodeau is well-documented -- and an engaged Kobe is central for any Lakers' success over the next couple of years.
1. Byron Scott, Former Cleveland Cavs Head Coach
Scott presents the perfect mix of name recognition and "safety" for Jim and Jeannie Buss. His history as a player with the team will open the door with casual fans and his NBA coaching pedigree ensures that there won't be much hand-holding necessary when it comes to Scott taking the reins. Mix in Byron Scott's "tempered in the 80's" old-school approach to handling both X's and O's and roster management, and you have the ideal Yang to Mike D'Antoni's Yin.
Wild Card: Billy Donovan, Florida Gators head coach
LakersNation.com thinks that Billy Donovan should be on the Lakers' coaching wishlist, and it makes sense when you think about it. Proven success on the collegiate level and relative youth compared to the rest of collegiate coaches not named Kevin Ollie on the Lakers' wishlist make Donovan an extremely attractive candidate. Donovan is a defensive-minded coach, adept at drawing the best from whatever talent is on his roster -- a sharp departure from the "my system or the highway" days of the Mike D'Antoni-era at Staples.
Donovan is "intrigued" by the chance at coaching in the NBA and what better place to try his hand then at the top of the big-market food chain?
Other Candidates: Lionel Hollins (former Memphis Grizzlies head coach), Kurt Rambis (LA Lakers assistant coach), Stan Van Gundy (former Orlando Magic head coach), Jeff Van Gundy (former Knicks/Rockets head coach), Mike Dunleavy Sr. (former Los Angeles Clippers GM) Ettore Messina (Italian basketball legend), Tom Izzo (Michigan State head coach)