After what some are calling the most disappointing season in franchise history, Frank Vogel is expected to be relieved of his duties as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Though he won a *title two years ago in the bubble, exiting in the first round last year put Vogel on the hot seat, and missing the playoffs and even the play-in this year looks to take him out of any seat altogether. Even Vogel himself thinks his firing is a foregone conclusion.
Facing elimination tonight, the Lakers are still expected to part ways with coach Frank Vogel at season’s end. Two names most often linked by league figures as potential replacements currently coach other teams: Quin Snyder and Doc Rivers. More at @BR_NBA: https://t.co/ldgWmgZMyu— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) April 5, 2022
So who should be the new coach who can lead the Forum Blue and Gold back to glory? Since this disastrous season is definitely the fault of the head coach, and not the
Rich Paul-led Rob Pelinka-led front office that traded all of the team’s youth, defenders, and depth for Russell Westbrook, or Anthony Davis’ frayed ligaments, or the Lakers’ roster having the oldest average age in the NBA by a full two years. Let’s take a look at some candidates, with an emphasis on the ones with ties to the Golden State Warriors.
Luke Walton: The former Warriors’ assistant and acting head coach for half of the Warriors’ 2015-15 season was dismissed after the Lakers went 37-45 in LeBron’s first season, but that record looks pretty good compared to this year’s 49 losses and counting. Besides, losing that much got the Lakers the 4th pick in the draft that year, a crucial piece of the package that brought in The Brow.
What are Walton’s attributes? He’s a member of the Lakers family, both as a player and a coach. So what if he got fired? Magic Johnson resigned and that hasn’t stopped him from weighing in on all the Lakers’ moves. Luke coached in Sacramento for two years, so he can remind the players how much worse things can get in the NBA. He has beautiful hair, something Pelinka clearly appreciates. And Luke’s dad Bill followed the Grateful Dead around for years, including the newest incarnation Dead and Company, so he knows a lot about bands of really old guys that are way past their prime, who still have millions of passionate fans, endlessly dissecting all of their performances online.
Doc Rivers: Sure, the current Philadelphia coach has three years and $24 million left on his contract, and might require compensation from the 76ers - they don’t like to let people leave even if they’re unhappy, just ask Ben Simmons. And sure, Doc is the only coach in NBA history to blow a 3-1 lead in three separate playoff series (maybe LeBron can make Halloween decorations?). But at least he made it to the playoffs all those years! A return to Los Angeles makes a lot of sense, as a way to juice up the nascent Lakers-Clippers rivalry, and Doc can finally recover all the money he stashed in the ceiling tiles of the Crypto.com Arena.
Mike Dunleavy Junior: The former Warriors player and current Warriors executive never played for the Lakers, but his father coached them to the NBA Finals in 1991. He has front office experience, but more important for this team, he has experience with being a disappointment, as any Warriors fan from the 2000’s could tell you. Dunleavy can provide steady leadership and share stories about he too was booed off the court by his own fans.
Derek Fisher: There’s a long-established tradition of the Lakers panicking and acquiring Derek Fisher in a time of trouble. He’s currently the coach of the WNBA’s Sparks, where he’s gone 49-39 as head coach and gone 1-4 in the playoffs, including one loss where he benched the team’s three stars, just like Frank Vogel with Russell Westbrook! Still, the Lakers should make sure he has enough competitive fire for the job, by making him fight former Laker and Warriors Matt Barnes.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: This Lakers roster is, if nothing else, a mystery. And who’s better to deal with a mystery than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the team’s great center, who has written four novels about Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft Holmes, and was part of the writing staff for the Hulu revival of Veronica Mars. LeBron James needs a coach who can challenge him, both on and off the court, and Kareem writes an essay criticizing Bron seemingly every month. Plus, LeBron can break Kareem’s all-time scoring record in front of Kareem himself, a very special moment that would be immediately followed by LeBron getting Kareem fired by leaking critical stories to Dave McMenamin.
Mark Jackson: Mark Jackson is the architect of the Warriors dynasty. Just ask him! After all, “You cannot disrespect the caterpillar and rave about the butterfly.”
Jackson helped turn the Warriors’ defense around, and there’s no reason he couldn’t help the Lakers and the No. 22 defense too. What the advanced defensive stats don’t tell you is that the Lakers’ main problem defensively was having their hands down. And as well as know, hand down, man down, and then Mama there goes that man to the hoop! Plus, AD’s injuries will be a thing of the past after Jax anoints his entire body with oil.
Mike Brown: The current Warriors’ defensive coordinator is a former Lakers coach - he coached in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, and was fired after starting the next season 1-4. That was a similar experience to this year’s team, where they’d surrounded an aging superstar (Kobe/LeBron) with a star center coming off surgery (Dwight Howard/AD) and a star point guard who was about to fall off a cliff as a player (Steve Nash/Westbrook). He’s learned his lesson, although the lesson probably should be “Don’t work for the Lakers.” It would be Brown’s second go-round with the Lake Show and his second with LeBron, who he coached in Cleveland. And judging by the Warriors’ recent defense, his solution to the Lakers woes would be making sure they always help off the strong side corner three.
A.C. Green: One problem the Lakers had this year was too much of a focus on scoring. Well, there’s one former Laker who has no interest at all in scoring. It’s former All-Star forward A.C. Green, who remained a virgin for the entirety of his NBA career, despite playing for the Showtime Lakers, one of the most pro-orgy basketball teams ever. He even made a video called It Ain’t Worth It-Athletes For Abstinence. Maybe the Lakers are still going to be in win-now mode, but A.C. Green is certainly willing to wait.
Jerry West: The most depressing season in Lakers history can only be rescued by the most depressed man in Lakers history. It’s Jerry West, architect of two Lakers dynasties and a valuable consultant on a Warriors dynasty. Recently, he’s feuded with the Lakers after they revoked his season tickets, and he’s also been angry about his unflattering portrayal on HBO’s Winning Time. It’s time to mend those fences and return the 83-year-old Zeke from Cabin Creek to the sidelines he last strode in 1979. The NBA’s oldest roster imaginable deserves the oldest head coach imaginable. Bring Jerry back!
Player-Coach Dwight Howard: Who knows protecting the rim better than a three-time Defensive Player of the Year? Who knows disappointing Lakers teams like a member of the vaunted 2012-13 super team that crashed and burned, taking Kobe Bryant’s Achilles tendon with it? And who knows just when to let loose a hilarious fart during a late-game timeout? It’s NBA champion Dwight Howard, the clown prince of basketball, AKA Superman (Please do not let Shaq read this article). Dwight knows the intricacies of the game: When to roll to the basket (never). When to eat a movie theater box of Mike & Ike’s before tip-off (always). When to get a technical foul for cheap-shotting an opponent or hanging on the rim (the most damaging possible moment for his team). Look, Dwight Howard just knows how to win (two out of six games in a first-round series).
Bonus Front Office Candidate - Vlade Divac: You know how when you multiply a negative number with a negative number, it becomes a positive number? That’s how you improve the disastrous moves made by Rob Pelinka and Klutch Sports recently: Multiply them with former Lakers center Vlade Divac, the architect of some truly bizarre moves while in charge of the Sacramento Kings. Hey, Vlade would have traded for Buddy Hield when the Lakers needed shooting. And he won’t just ignore potential additions because they aren’t Klutch clients, he’ll pass because he doesn’t like their dads. If nothing else, Vlade will provide a valuable scapegoat, because I can guarantee someone is getting fire mid-season next year.