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HomeBasketballNBAIn hiring JJ Redick, LA Lakers show they have no direction

In hiring JJ Redick, LA Lakers show they have no direction

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The Los Angeles Lakers joke of a coaching search ended with a punchline that would get anybody booed off the stage at the Apollo.

LA on Thursday announced the hire of JJ Redick as the team’s 27th coach. Redick reportedly will sign a four-year deal with the team. Redick, who this season has served as a color commentator for ESPN, replaces Darvin Ham who was fired earlier this spring after two years on the job.

Redick comes in with no resume to speak of. He’s held no role of any kind in a locker room. It feels almost like the podcast he does with Lakers superstar LeBron James is what LA used to determine if Redick could do the job.

It’s a bit of an embarrassment. LA for a couple of weeks was supposedly linked to University of Connecticut coach Dan Hurley before Hurley smartly turned the team down. The Lakers reportedly also showed interest in James Borrego, who has more than two decades of experience as an NBA assistant and head coach.

To go from that to Redick is backward. But that’s par for the course for LA. Redick will be the eighth coach for the Lakers since Phil Jackson’s second stint ended in 2011. He’ll be the team’s third first-time, full-time head coach since 2016, and the third since James joined the team in 2018.

Again: Redick has no experience to speak of. Athletic basketball reporter Shams Charania on Thursday reported that some of the Lakers brass see Redick as another Eric Spoelstra. That’s not an accurate comparison at all. Spoelstra worked in the Miami Heat video department for four years, then served nine years as an assistant.

“Well, Steve Kerr went from TV to the sidelines and has put together one of the better resumes of all time,” you say?

Kerr before taking the Golden State head coaching job in 2014 amassed eight times as much TV experience as Redick, serving as an analyst for TNT from 2003 to 2007 and again from 2010 to 2014. Kerr also spent three years as an executive with the Phoenix Suns.

“Joe Mazzulla is only 35 and he just won an NBA title,” you say?

Mazzulla literally started his coaching career at the bottom. The Boston Celtics head coach spent eight years coaching Division II college basketball before taking an assistant coach role with the Celtics. Mazzulla then spent three years as an assistant in Boston before taking the big chair in a less-than-ideal situation.

I don’t fault Redick for taking the opportunity. The Lakers are the most notable franchise in the sport. It’s an unbelievable shot for any coach, let alone someone with as much experience as I have. Redick may well turn out to be an excellent coach, but I don’t see it.

He’s great at talking Xs and Os with LeBron. He’s average at best on TV. Putting together a playbook is just a small part of the job. What does Redick know about managing egos? What’s he gonna do when D’Angelo Russell complains about shots? How’s he going to handle James going off script on offense?

That’s what makes a coach: the people stuff.

The Detroit Pistons on Wednesday fired head coach Monty Williams only one year into a huge six-year deal. Williams reportedly was bad at the people stuff. The former Coach of the Year made some curious decisions: playing Killian Hayes over Jaden Ivey, playing all-bench units late in close games the team had a chance to win. Williams lost a young team in six months. That’s after Williams reportedly fell out of favor with the elder statesmen on the Phoenix Suns.

Redick will have his work cut out for him. He has less than a week before being a part of his first draft. He’ll have to work to gain the trust of the LA roster, even more than any other coach would.

The odds aren’t in his favor, though. No Lakers coach since Jackson has lasted more than three years on the job. That includes Frank Vogel, who led LA to the title in 2020 before being canned in 2022.

Redick’s success or lack thereof won’t be all on him.

The LA front office has done a disservice to players and coaches. GM Rob Pelinka, Kobe Bryant’s former agent, made deals that shipped out Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma — all members of that 2020 championship team. LA brass still hasn’t brought in that kind of wing depth and defense, which is a big reason why the team has hovered around .500 the last four years.

The same group that made the move to turn a title-winning team into a fringe playoff squad made this hire.

How do you think this is gonna end?

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