Essential characteristics of the next Lakers head coach revealed

The Los Angeles Lakers are preparing to hire the eighth head coach since Phil Jackson retired in 2011. After seven polarizing tries, the franchise reportedly knows exactly what it's looking for in a long-term fit.
Celebrities At The Los Angeles Lakers Game
Celebrities At The Los Angeles Lakers Game / Allen Berezovsky/GettyImages

The past 14 years have been among the most challenging in Los Angeles Lakers history. Despite winning championship in 2010 and 2020, the seasons in between and since have been nothing short of polarizing for the NBA's most storied franchise.

A crucial reason for the Lakers' general inconsistency during that timeframe has been the simple inability to find a long-term replacement for Phil Jackson at head coach.

Since Jackson retired from coaching in 2011, the Lakers have been led by seven different head coaches. The longest-tenured sideline leaders during that time have been Luke Walton and Frank Vogel at three seasons apiece.

With yet another coaching search under way, Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka has created a strict set of criteria to buck that devastating trend.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the Lakers are looking for a head coach who fits a description that boils down to one word: "Grinder."

"In Pelinka's conversations with officials across the league, the term 'grinder' keeps coming up in the general manager's description of an important characteristic for the next coach, sources said."

Per Shams Charania and Jovan Buha of The Athletic, that word describes a head coach who will create a culture of accountability and prepare meticulously for each opponent.

"The Lakers are taking a methodical approach with their process and are seeking a coach who will command the locker room and hold players accountable, as well as tirelessly game plan and provide a level of structure and organization, according to multiple league and team sources."

This doesn't necessarily provide insight into which of the current candidates the Lakers will land on, but it does indicate a potential shift in locker room culture.

It’s a positive sign for the organization that the top priority in the current coaching search is creating a sense of accountability from the top down. A culture without it is destined to crumble, as many have hypothesized has transpired under previous Lakers regimes.

The notion that the next head coach should be all but unrivaled in their commitment to planning for each game and opponent checks yet another box in terms of reasons for optimism.

Some of the qualities of the ideal head coach may be cliche, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong to prioritize. If the 2024 postseason has proven anything, it’s that culture and talent must go hand-in-hand for teams to overcome the highs and lows of an NBA season.

Being led by a head coach who holds their players accountable, while also being able to adapt to each opponent, is paramount to the pursuit of glory.

In terms of who this approach has brought about, the Lakers have been linked to the likes of David Adelman, James Borrego, Sam Cassell, Micah Nori, JJ Redick, and Chris Quinn, per Charania and Buva’s aforementioned report. Adelman, Borrego, Cassell, Nori, and Quinn all have extensive experience as assistant coaches, while Redick is reportedly viewed as a Pat Riley level coaching prospect.

Regardless of which direction the Lakers ultimately opt to go in, the outlined criteria certainly implies that the results could be prosperous.

If nothing else, the base description of the hypothetical next Lakers head coach suggests a return to form could be just over the horizon.