The Los Angeles Lakers' extensive coaching search is now narrowed down to three candidates, according to Howard Beck. Los Angeles is reportedly deciding between Kurt Rambis, Alvin Gentry and Byron Scott to be the franchise's successor to Mike D'Antoni. The Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers have the only head coaching openings left after the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks filled vacancies last week.
Neither of the three names would represent the splashy hires the Lakers are known for making, but would offer a change of direction from D'Antoni's system and coaching style. The Lakers have also interviewed Mike Dunleavy, Lionel Hollins and George Karl for the job. Part of the holdup with the search has reportedly centered on Los Angeles' desire to acquire either LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony this offseason. That would be considered a longshot, no matter who is coaching in LA next season.
Are Rambis, Gentry and Scott really the only three names the Lakers are considering?
Why this makes sense
Many of the most intriguing potential candidates for the job who were floated following D'Antoni's dismissal are seemingly off the table. Kevin Ollie recently signed an extension at UConn. Tom Thibodeau is still under contract with the Chicago Bulls for another three seasons. The Lakers have a history of always targeting the biggest name possible, but most of those candidates just don't appear to be realistic at this point.
Gentry, Scott and Rambis would all make sense because each has head coaching experience and a tie to Los Angeles.
Gentry just served as an assist to Doc Rivers with the Clippers and and has been a head coach with the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns previously. Scott played with the Lakers from 1983-93 as shooting guard, winning three championships with the franchise. He's also served as the head coach of the Nets, Hornets and Cavaliers. Rambis played for the Lakers from 1981-88 and then again from 1993-95. He served as the head coach of the Lakers in 1999 and has been around the team as an assist from 1994-2009. He also was the head coach of the Timberwolves from 2009-11.
The Lakers do not want to enter a full-on rebuilding phase, particularly because their 2015 first-round draft pick is ticketed to go to the Suns. Each of the three rumored candidates has a connection to the city and the professional experience the Lakers desire.
Why this doesn't make sense
The Lakers always seem to have a bigger move in their pocket. Few thought they were a realistic option to trade for Pau Gasol in 2008, but they pulled it off, and it helped them win two championships. There's also a sizable amount of pressure to win while Kobe Bryant is still around the franchise. Bryant begins a new two-year contract this season after recovering from a knee injury.
With Bryant wanting to do all he can win his sixth championship, the Lakers know this isn't the time to be conservative. Gentry, Rambis or Scott would each fit with a rebuilding franchise more than one gunning for a championship. The Lakers' current roster does not have anything close to the look of a title team, but they surely have a few offseason moves in mind that could change that.
The Lakers would likely love to hire a bigger name than Rambis, Gentry or Scott, but there doesn't appear to be a flashier option available who would be realistic. Still: This is the Lakers, and we should know by now they are rarely willing to settle for less than their first option.