Sources: Lakers have ‘zeroed’ in on JJ Redick as their next head coach

Anthony Irwin
6 Min Read

Sources close to the situation speaking on the condition of anonymity say the Los Angeles Lakers are operating with the understanding that Tyronn Lue will not be available this offseason and have zeroed in on JJ Redick as their next head coach. Previously, it was thought they would not move forward with anyone until they got clarity on that situation. Sources say the Lakers have gotten that clarity to the extent that they can without breaking tampering rules and are now moving on.

For their part, the Los Angeles Clippers have been waiting on the Lakers to hire a head coach, as it would take leverage from Lue’s side of those negotiations. League sources have indicated consistently since the end of the Clippers season that Lue is not going anywhere.

It was reported last week that the Lakers would begin the interview process with all their candidates. They have since received the necessary permissions to interview assistant coaches on staffs currently in the playoffs.

Sources say the Lakers are approaching their sit-down with Redick hoping to be wowed. As Redick has thrived as a podcaster and television analyst, indications at this time are that he will likely do just that, and the Lakers will look to move quickly in hiring him.

While they have seen Redick as their preferred candidate for upward of a week now, sources say they will still go through the interview process with all their candidates with an open mind. It is no guarantee Redick is going to be hired, but the feeling is it’s his job to lose.

James Borrego, Kenny Atkinson, David Adelman, Micah Nori and Chris Quinn have all been mentioned as candidates for this position, but a sizable gap has developed between Redick and the rest of the group.

After Darvin Ham lasted only two seasons as a rookie head coach, potentially hiring Redick with no coaching experience has people around the league scratching their heads. Though one Eastern Conference executive has a theory on why they might head in this direction:

“If they hire JJ and it doesn’t work out,” the source said. “Rob [Pelinka] can basically tell Jeanie [Buss] the hire was for LeBron [James] and get another chance at hiring whoever comes next. This is technically the safest hire he could make, outside of Ty somehow being available.”

Sources close to the Lakers say Redick is seen as someone who is incredibly organized, communicates well, and displays the kind of attention to detail in his analysis that makes them comfortable hiring not only a first-time head coach, but someone who has spent no time at all on a high-level coaching staff. Redick’s 14-year career as an impact player and his relationship with James lead them to believe he’ll be able to hold players accountable, sources say.

The Lakers aren’t alone in feeling that way. Redick was a finalist to be the Charlotte Hornets’ head coach before Charles Lee was eventually hired. Upon Lee’s hiring, many around the league wondered if Redick potentially passed on that opportunity with the understanding another was coming.

One complication in this process is Redick’s current job as color commentator for ESPN/ABC. He is slated to call games this NBA Finals and could have to wait until that series is over to fully assume his duties as head coach. It is unclear as of now whether ESPN — who already lost Doc Rivers to the Milwaukee Bucks midseason — would let Redick out of his contract with so little time to find a replacement between now and the championship series.

Interestingly enough, there is actually a pretty close example of how this could be handled when, back in 2011, Mark Jackson was hired to coach the Golden State Warriors during the Finals. Jackson finished that series and assumed his head coaching responsibilities after the Dallas Mavericks beat James’ Miami Heat.

Sources say Redick has yet to interview, but that is imminent and he could be hired shortly thereafter, with contract negotiations potentially getting underway within the week.

“They’re going to want to move pretty quickly here,” a Lakers source said. “Given the way Pelinka likes to work with his head coaches on personnel, that communication is going to have to be pretty constant with the draft right around the corner, then everything that comes after that.”

Again, sources do stress the Lakers will conduct a full round of at least introductory interviews in case Redick underwhelms. Borrego or Atkinson are considered next in line after Redick, though there is nowhere near the consensus among sources on those other names as there is at this point with Redick.

Coaching the Lakers with James on the roster and championship aspirations very much still in place throughout the organization is a brutal test for a first-time head coach, but as this was not a market with a clear top-tier candidate (especially once the Phoenix Suns hired Mike Budenholzer), the Lakers seem ready to gamble on charisma and the relationship between Redick and James.

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Anthony has spent the last decade-plus covering the Lakers either in written, audio or video form. He has written previously on the TrueHoop Network, Fansided and SB Nation. He founded Locked on Lakers, currently hosts Lakers Lounge and produces other podcasts for Audacy and 247Sports. His latest venture has been news breaking, which he looks forward to doing for Lakers Daily.