Lakers’ coaching search could be a lengthy process

CHICAGO — Sunday’s NBA Draft Lottery results set the stage for early chatter regarding this upcoming offseason. Yes, 22 of the league’s 30 teams have been eliminated from championship contention, and the feel of this ongoing week at the Draft Combine would have any observer thinking the summer transaction cycle has truly begun.

Much of the actual non-draft-related activity on the ground at the Marriott Marquis — or the swankier segment of this league-wide gathering at the Peninsula — is actually comprised of interviews and meetings regarding front-office and coaching changes. There aren’t trade packages bouncing back and forth between teams. The Pistons’ ongoing search for a new president of basketball operations, the Lakers’ pursuit of their next head coach and the Wizards’ own head coaching vacancy — plus various smaller-profile, back-of-the-bench transitions and new team strategy hires — are what’s really shaking in Chicago.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 02: ESPN analyst JJ Redick looks on prior to the game between the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 2, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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 Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
JJ Redick has some obligations that could affect his coaching candidacy. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Los Angeles is said to hold an affinity for 15-year NBA veteran JJ Redick, according to league figures with knowledge of the situation. Redick, as a podcaster and television analyst, has thrust himself to the top of the coaching candidate ranks, having met with Toronto last year and already with Charlotte this spring, sources said, before the Hornets hired Celtics assistant Charles Lee. Redick’s current obligation to ESPN for the network’s postseason schedule and NBA Finals crew has various coaching industry personnel under the impression Los Angeles’ search may stretch into June, allowing Redick to fulfill his Finals obligations after the network quite notably lost Doc Rivers from that same seat this season when he joined Milwaukee.

James Borrego has been widely categorized by NBA figures as the experienced, veteran foil to Redick’s candidacy, while the Lakers are also known to be considering Kenny Atkinson, Chris Quinn, David Adelman and Micah Nori, in addition to Sam Cassell, sources said. Borrego manned the sidelines in Charlotte for four seasons and helped oversee New Orleans’ improved offense this year. That’s the same franchise where Borrego was an assistant for the then-Hornets, when Anthony Davis was drafted first overall by New Orleans, and the two have maintained a relationship ever since. This Los Angeles search is as much about finding the optimal coach for Davis’ long-term future with the Lakers beyond LeBron’s final few seasons in the league.

The outcome of the Lakers’ process, and the rest of this unfolding coaching cycle — which has already included paydays for Jason Kidd and new Suns head coach Mike Budenholzer — will also provide added context for Mike Brown’s contract extension conversations in Sacramento. With Brown’s Coach of the Year credentials and the new benchmarks for coaching salaries after Monty Williams landed $70-plus million from Detroit and Budenholzer’s recent $10 million average annual salary, Brown’s talks are expected to center around a similar eight-figure threshold as well, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Tom Thibodeau’s own extension number in New York, sources said, is anticipated to finish in that same ballpark.