Ever since the Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Luke Walton, rumors have been swirling that a face familiar to the team’s star will be its next coach.
That talk picked up steam Friday when Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers were expected to “move toward” hiring Tyronn Lue, who was with LeBron James in Cleveland.
The expectation is the Lakers will move toward Ty Lue as head coach, but there’s been no offer made to him yet, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 3, 2019
Just like when he was with the Cavaliers, James soon could be coaching the Lakers while Lue stands on the sidelines in a suit and collects a paycheck.
Lue was brought in as LeBron’s puppet in Cleveland after James had David Blatt fired midway through the 2016 season. Thanks to Lue’s deference to James, James’ transformation into Magic Johnson in the Finals and the Golden State Warriors’ collapse, Lue got the esteemed title of “NBA championship coach” and possibly the bottom spot on the all-time list of coaches to hold that honor.
Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns announced Friday they were making Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams their next coach.
As Yahoo pointed out, Williams and Lue were the two men on the Lakers’ shortlist to replace Walton (leaving aside preposterous rumors about Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski), so with Williams now headed to Phoenix, Lue stands alone.
As always, the Lakers’ pitch surrounds their alleged ability to add talent and become better than the 35-win team they were without James in 2017-18 and the 37-win team they barfed out onto the court in 2018-19.
But Kawhi Leonard has shown no interest in playing for the Lakers. The New Orleans Pelicans still hold Anthony Davis’ trade rights for another season and have set the price at all of the Lakers’ young talent, four of their first-round draft picks and possibly a lifetime pass to Disneyland before they’ll send the Brow to LA.
Paul George re-signed with Oklahoma City a year ago even though he is from Los Angeles and grew up a Lakers fan.
The Lakers have a superstar player who can’t even get other NBA players to be in a movie with him and Bugs Bunny, never mind have him as a teammate. General manager Rob Pelinka is so despised that other executives around the league reportedly won’t even take his calls.
And the “young talent” of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart featured zero players at even league average in player efficiency rating, nobody with more than 0.065 win shares per 48 minutes (if every player on a team had a 0.065 WS/48, that team would be expected to go 26-56), and one player (Ingram) whose value over replacement player (similar to wins above replacement in baseball) is literally worse than would be expected from a player brought up from the G-League.
By focusing on Lue as coach, the Lakers are essentially admitting outright that they want to put all responsibility for even so much as making the playoffs on James by making him a player/coach the way the Cavaliers essentially did in Cleveland.
But this isn’t the Eastern Conference. James can’t drag a G-League team to the Finals in West, especially with his body finally starting to break down after 16 seasons in the league and over 50,000 combined regular-season and playoff minutes plus two Olympic gold medals.
So we may have seen one of the NBA’s greatest players of all time play his final playoff game, his legacy in Los Angeles forever to be compared to Michael Jordan — when Jordan was on the Washington Wizards.
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