‘Stop the B.S.’: Stephen A. Smith calls out LeBron, warns not to trust him regarding Lakers coaching search

Mike Battaglino
5 Min Read
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James reportedly is not involved in the Los Angeles Lakers’ search for a new head coach, but Stephen A. Smith doesn’t believe that in the slightest, especially as it pertains to his ESPN colleague J.J. Redick’s chances to land the coveted job.

“What are we supposed to believe when you know good and damn well that Darvin Ham is on the hot seat and you start a podcast with J.J. Redick,” Smith said. “It’s entitled ‘Mind the Game.’ And on this podcast, you’re talking strategy, you’re talking scheme, you’re talking all of these different things, right? And then lo and behold, J.J. Redick is the leading candidate for the Lakers job.

“Now, we can bring up [James] Borrego all we want to and respect the man, but he was in Charlotte. He had one winnin’ season. He won 44 percent of his games. You think the Lakers could sell that to Laker Nation? Good luck with that, okay? And I’m not sayin’ the man doesn’t deserve to be a head coach. I’m just sayin’ that.

“We all know that J.J. Redick is the leading candidate for this job. Now, I’m not saying what LeBron’s intent was or whatever. J.J. Redick is doin’ an outstanding job for us as an analyst. But we all know he wants to be a coach, and I wish him luck. I hope he gets it. I hope he gets it. But here’s the thing with LeBron: If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, bro, it ain’t a damn mongoose. We know what the hell you doin’. We need to just stop the B.S., okay?

“The man is not gonna publicize it, but behind the scenes, he’s workin’ what he wants to work. We all know it. Ladies and gentlemen, don’t believe a damn thing he says otherwise as it pertains to that, and let’s move forward.”

Los Angeles is looking for someone to replace Darvin Ham, who was fired by the Lakers shortly after they were eliminated in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs by the Denver Nuggets.

Redick quickly emerged as the leading candidate, possibly because of his connection to James, with the two launching a podcast together in March. The former NBA player has appeared with Smith on various ESPN programs, including “First Take.” He also joined the network’s lead NBA broadcasting team after Doc Rivers left to become head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.

James and fellow superstar teammate Anthony Davis reportedly will have to sign off on whoever the Lakers decide to hire as head coach. Los Angeles may have fired Ham partly because it feared Davis might request a trade, and one NBA source recently said the team should prioritize Davis over James in the coaching search.

Redick reportedly interviewed for the head coaching position with the Charlotte Hornets earlier this year and Toronto Raptors job in 2023. Borrego, who is the associate head coach for the New Orleans Pelicans, and Boston Celtics assistant coach Sam Cassell are among the other top candidates for the Lakers head coaching job.

But the organization seems to be focusing on Redick for their high-profile position, with some thinking he could be like legendary former Lakers head coach Pat Riley.

The job would include the opportunity to coach James as the superstar chases his fifth NBA championship. The 39-year-old holds a player option for the 2024-25 season, but the Lakers reportedly are planning as if he will return to the franchise for a seventh season in L.A.

Ham’s job might’ve been in jeopardy during the 2023-24 NBA regular season, and his fate was sealed when the Lakers were eliminated in five games by the Nuggets after being swept by them in the 2023 Western Conference Finals.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.