Lakers coaching search: LeBron James would be ‘very excited’ for Mark Jackson to get the job, report says

Before we know who the Los Angeles Lakers might hire as their next coach, let’s all agree that the way they let Frank Vogel go was classless. To let this news leak before Vogel had even been informed of his fate in person was such a low decision. Adrian Wojnarowski released this report about five seconds after the Lakers’ last buzzer of the season. He clearly seems to have had this news in advance and was sitting on it. The formality of Vogel’s dismissal is irrelevant; it was a total trash move from a front office that continues to use Vogel as a scapegoat for its own shortcomings.

Now, having gotten that off my chest, let’s move on to who Rob Pelinka — who for some reason continues to pull the levers for the Lakers when none of the other 29 teams in the league would hire him in the same capacity — could tap to replace Vogel. Our Sam Quinn has compiled a list of 25 potential candidates.

One such candidate is Mark Jackson, who hasn’t coached since the Golden State Warriors fired him in 2014. The stench around Jackson’s name took time to dissipate when details emerged regarding his controversial tenure with the Warriors. Truth be told, it probably hasn’t been erased yet. Still, according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, LeBron James is “very excited about the prospect of seeing Jackson land the [Lakers] work.”

LeBron has supported Jackson in the past, and let’s not forget that Jackson is a client of Klutch Sports. Of course, LeBron will speak well of a guy represented by the agency with which he is invested. Besides, it’s not like LeBron has been the best judge of coaches or players in the past. He’s the guy who lobbied for Erik Spoelstra to get fired in Miami and last summer got the Lakers to trade for Russell Westbrook.

The thing is, the Lakers haven’t always caved to LeBron. As Amick pointed out:

Had James truly had the deciding vote, Ty Lue would have been hired as head coach in the summer of 2019 rather than Vogel. Ditto for Jason Kidd, who was Vogel’s primary assistant with the Lakers for the past two seasons before moving to Dallas last summer.

Kidd is an interesting lineup for Jackson in that the stench around him was pretty bad as a head coach, for both on and off the field reasons, before the Mavericks signed him to replace Rick Carlisle. Kidd, to his credit, took with him much of the defensive principles he learned from Vogel and the Lakers in Dallas, which helped the Mavericks start the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the West. Kidd has been a good coach this season. A lot of people wouldn’t bet on that.

Maybe Jackson also deserves, finally, a second chance. Remember how badly it ended with Golden State. Never mind the mind games pitting players against each other he was famous for, or the fact that Jackson ruled a locker room environment so filled with paranoia that an assistant coach felt it necessary to record private conversations. for fear of anything. it was said of him, or even that Warriors owner Joe Lacob said that Jackson couldn’t get along with anyone in the organization (check out This thread for a long list of Jackson’s transgressions), the man just wasn’t a good basketball coach.

Yes, he instilled a committed defensive mindset that had long been absent in this organization, but a lot of that was personnel (hello Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, a surprisingly defensive follower of Klay Thompson – even early in his career – and serious role players like Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack).

The offense was the problem. It depended on isolation/old school, and passing was nearly non-existent, making it too easy for defenses to focus on Steph Curry running a million pick and rolls with everyone around. Curry was good enough to cover some of that, but ultimately Jackson’s Warriors significantly underperformed their talent level as the No. 12 offense who was three games away from missing the playoffs in his last season.

Essentially working with the same roster as Jackson, Steve Kerr took over in 2014-15 and immediately led the Warriors to 67 wins and a championship. Think about it. From 51 wins and a first round elimination in Jackson’s final season to 67 wins and a championship less than 12 months later under Kerr. Again, with essentially the same players.

But hey, we always allow and expect growth from young players, but we tend to view coaches as finished products based on their latest performances. Kidd is better. Maybe Jackson could do the same with a second chance. I doubt the Lakers offer that opportunity, but if they did, it doesn’t seem like LeBron would object.

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