With the hiring of Derek Fisher in New York, the most talked about coaching vacancies left are the Cavaliers and Lakers. While Dan Gilbert is throwing crazy money at college coaches, the Lakers have been very deliberate in their coaching search, appearing to be in no rush.
According to reports, this slow-paced search is no coincidence, and the Lakers are leaving all their coaching options open in order to pursue LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in free agency first. By not locking themselves into a head coach, the Lakers seem to think it will entice the top free agents this summer, giving them some say in the coach that they went.
The goals of pursuing LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony still seem far-fetched for the Lakers. James has a $20 million player option for next season, but can opt out to sign another longer-term deal. Even if the Heat fall to the Spurs over the next week and a half, he will have made the Finals in all four seasons since leaving Cleveland and have Bosh and Wade as his running mates, along with a front office and ownership he trusts in Pat Riley and Micky Arison. The Lakers may be able to offer his choice of a head coach, but James already has a relationship with Eric Spolestra—one of the best coaches in the league—and a much better roster even if the Heat are aging. Would James realistically consider the Lakers as a destination this offseason?
With Anthony, of course, it’s a more complicated situation. The Knicks’ Phil Jackson just hitched the team’s star to Derek Fisher, but are still at least a year away from having the cap room in order to pair their franchise player with another superstar, or two. Coming off a frustrating season and facing another year-long wait Anthony will more than likely consider his other options before he has to make a free agency decision on June 23. But will the Lakers be at the top of the list? He would be pairing himself up with two aging stars in Kobe and Steve Nash and, at least for now, not know who will be coaching.
This is the dilemma facing the Lakers. They have the allure of the franchise’s history, and the appeal of Los Angeles. But while those remain a draw for free agents, the ones that they’re intent on chasing will survey the market and find that there are better options if they want to win now.
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