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    Potential candidates for Lakers’ head coaching job
    • May 3, 2024

    The Lakers fired head coach Darvin Ham on Friday, ending his two-season tenure at the helm.

    Here are a few of the potential candidates for the Lakers’ vacant head coaching position:

    David Adelman, Denver Nuggets assistant coach

    Adelman, the son of Hall of Famer Rick Adelman, is the lead assistant coach for the defending NBA champions and has been on Coach Michael Malone’s staff since the 2017-18 season.

    Adelman, 42, joined the Minnesota Timberwolves as a player development coach in 2011-12 under his father for his first NBA job after previously coaching in the high school ranks.

    He was a Timberwolves assistant for his final three seasons in Minnesota before becoming an assistant on Frank Vogel’s Orlando Magic staff for a season (2016-17) before moving to Denver.

    Adelman received a significant endorsement to be an NBA head coach last season after serving as the Nuggets’ acting head coach in a Jan. 17, 2023 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in which Malone was sidelined because of the league’s health and safety protocols.

    “I really think that [Adelman’s] a guy who’s gonna be next head coach because he has that, I’m gonna say ‘head’ for a head coach,” Nuggets star Nikola Jokic said, according to the Denver Post. “… He knows the answers. He reads, reacts.”

    Kenny Atkinson, Golden State Warriors assistant coach and former Brooklyn Nets head coach

    Atkinson was the Nets’ head coach from 2016-20, with Brooklyn improving its record by at least eight wins twice with Atkinson at the helm.

    Atkinson, who is considered one of the league’s top assistant coaches, has spent the past three seasons as an assistant under Warriors coach Steve Kerr, helping guide the team that won the 2022 NBA title.

    Before joining the Warriors, Atkinson, 56, spent the 2020-21 season as an assistant under Tyronn Lue with the Clippers.

    Atkinson has also been an assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks (2012-16) and the New York Knicks (2008-12) after spending one season as the director of player development for the Houston Rockets (2007-08).

    Atkinson was expected to become the Charlotte Hornets head coach during the 2022 offseason, but he decided to remain with the Warriors.

    Mike Budenholzer, former Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks head coach

    Budenholzer might be the most accomplished coach available to the Lakers in this cycle: he won a championship at the helm of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021.

    The two-time NBA Coach of the Year (2014-15, 2018-19) has a regular-season head coaching record of 484-317 and a 56-48 mark in the playoffs.

    Teams led by Budenholzer reached the playoffs in nine out of 10 seasons, made it to at least the second round six times, made the conference finals three times and made it to the NBA Finals once.

    Budenholzer, 54, was the head coach for the Atlanta Hawks from 2013-18 and the Bucks coach from 2018-23 after working under San Antonio Spurs legend Gregg Popovich for 17 years (1996-2013), where he won four NBA titles (1999, 2003, ’05, ’07) as an assistant coach.

    Notably, Ham was an assistant coach under Budenholzer with the Hawks and Bucks from 2013-22.

    Ty Lue, Clippers head coach

    It’s unclear if Lue will be available for the Lakers.

    Especially with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting on Friday that the Clippers are planning to pursue a contract extension with Lue, whose final year of his current contract is for the 2025-2026 season.

    But If Lue somehow becomes available or doesn’t reach an extension with the Clippers, the Lakers would be expected to have interest in the 47-year-old.

    Lue notably won an NBA title as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ head coach in 2016 – a team starring LeBron James. Those Lue-led Cavaliers teams also reached the NBA Finals in ’17 and ’18 before falling to the Warriors. The Lue-led Clippers also reached the Western Conference finals in 2021.

    Lue has a 312-217 regular-season record as a head coach and a 54-36 record in the playoffs going into the Clippers’ Game 6 matchup against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night. Lue-led teams have made the playoffs in six of seven full seasons he’s coached and had a winning record all seven seasons.

    He won two NBA titles with the Lakers as a player in 2000 and ’01.

    Notably, Lue was the frontrunner for the Lakers’ 2019 offseason coaching search, with Frank Vogel eventually taking the job after Lue turned down the Lakers’ offer at the time according to ESPN. Lue has also been an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics (2011-13), Clippers (2013-14, 2019-2020) and Cavaliers (2014-15).

    Charles Lee, Boston Celtics assistant coach

    Lee, who The Athletic reported is an option for the Lakers’ coaching job, has been an assistant coach in the NBA for a decade.

    He was an assistant on Budenholzer’s staff in Atlanta (2014-18) and Milwaukee (2018-23) before joining the Celtics last offseason as Joe Mazzulla’s lead assistant.

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    Lee was also the lead assistant under Budenholzer during his final season with the Bucks (2022-23).

    Like Adelman, Lee has been part of multiple recent interview cycles for head-coaching positions, including the Hornets’ current opening and the Detroit Pistons’ and Toronto Raptors’ openings last offseason, according to ESPN.

    JJ Redick, ESPN analyst/broadcaster

    Redick, who played in the NBA for 15 seasons and retired in 2021, doesn’t have any professional coaching experience.

    But he’s been interviewed for multiple head-coaching vacancies recently: the Raptors’ last offseason and the Hornets this spring.

    Redick became an analyst/broadcaster for ESPN immediately after retirement and has hosted a podcast since 2016, including, “The Old Man and the Three” which is part of the ThreeFourTwo Productions company he co-founded.

    Notably, Reddick has also been co-hosting a podcast, “Mind the Game” with James since March.

    ​ Orange County Register