Anthony Davis may have a preference for the next Lakers head coach

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis is reportedly being prioritized in the search for a new head coach. Rumor has it, Davis has a preference.
Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans - Play-In Tournament
Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans - Play-In Tournament / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers are entering an offseason in which Rob Pelinka must make a clear statement about the order of his priorities. The future of the Lakers is hanging in the balance and Pelinka has a chance to put his stamp on what the future will look like.

That all begins with the inescapable question of who Pelinka will hire to become the Lakers' new head coach.

The list of rumored candidates to lead the Lakers has drawn national media attention. It’s headlined by the star power of JJ Redick, but it's deep in its inclusion of a number of respected assistant coaches, including Sam Cassell, Micah Nori, and Chris Quinn.

One name that's drawing a unique brand of interest due to his Lakers connection is former Charlotte Hornets head coach James Borrego.

Borrego, 46, spent four seasons as the head coach of the Hornets. Before that stint, he spent time with the New Orleans Pelicans, where he forged some degree of a bond with Los Angeles superstar and former Pelican Anthony Davis.

According to NBA insider Shams Charania, Davis built a rapport with Borrego. That could ultimately come into play during the Lakers' head coaching search.

This could be much ado about nothing, but it may also be a significant development in an already hectic offseason.

Davis, 31, is coming off of a season in which he earned All-NBA Second Team and All-Defensive First Team honors. He averaged 24.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.3 blocks, and 1.2 steals on 55.6 percent shooting from the field while appearing in a career-high 76 regular season games.

As such, it should come as no surprise that everyone from Rich Paul to the rumor mill is of the belief that Davis should be the priority over 39-year-old LeBron James when hiring a new head coach.

This is no slight against James, but instead an acknowledgement of the fact that it’s already unprecedented for him to be playing at such a high level at 39 years of age. With his 40th birthday arriving in the early stages of the 2024-25 season, unprecedented would become an insufficient word if he were to continue reaching All-NBA heights.

For as incredible as it is to watch, it’s simply realistic to state that the end has historically been near for players who remain active in just about any sport at or beyond the age of 40.

Davis, meanwhile, is in his early 30s in an era in which primes can seemingly be extended. James is the leading example of players who have maintained a high level of play well into their 30s, but others, such as Stephen Curry, Paul George, and James Harden, prove it's not necessarily an isolated success story.

As such, the Lakers are likely to bet on Davis aging as well as his peers rather than James rewriting the history books any more than he already has.

In terms of what Borrego brings to the table, he’s certainly an interesting candidate. The Hornets saw an increase in win percentage across each of his final two seasons at the helm, culminating in a 43-39 finish to his final campaign.

Borrego's squad earned a spot in the Top 10 in offensive rating that season, and while Charlotte's defense struggled, Los Angeles would have the advantage of being anchored by Davis.

Despite the fact that it was the best season that the Hornets had produced in six years, Borrego was let go—and Charlotte has won a combined 48 games in the two seasons since. It was a disappointing end to his tenure, but Borrego, who has 20 years of NBA coaching experience, is still highly respected.

That's due in large part to his time as an assistant coach, including two tenures with Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, and one with Stan Van Gundy and the Orlando Magic.

The question for the Lakers is whether or not they believe Borrego can parlay his apparent relationship with Davis into success under pressure. Taking over in Los Angeles means maximizing the remaining potential of the Davis-James duo, and the window is closing if only due to age.

Reports indicate that Redick is the favorite for the Lakers job, but Borrego may very well be a candidate to keep an eye on as the prioritization of Davis commences.