The Lakers' coaching search may have just gotten more complicated

Within reason, the Los Angeles Lakers were expected to land the head coach of their choice. A recent development may have just complicated that process.
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Two
Orlando Magic v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Two / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers have been approaching the 2024 NBA offseason as the preferred destination for potential head coaches. With a roster that's led by All-NBA mainstays in Anthony Davis and LeBron James, and a 2020 championship season still within view, Los Angeles sat ahead of the Washington Wizards job with some degree of comfort and confidence as the ideal landing spot.

A new opening for potential NBA head coaches, however, could have made the Lakers' coaching search more complicated than Rob Pelinka expected it to be.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, by all means and measures, have been a strong team under head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. The Cavaliers improved in win percentage across each of the previous two seasons, and won a playoff series in 2023-24—its first since James led Cleveland to the NBA Finals in 2018.

Unfortunately, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN has reported that the Cavaliers have parted ways with Bickerstaff.

It didn't take long for the organization to confirm the report on X.

There's a lot to be unpacked on that side of things, but in the immediate future, the simplest of questions is this: What does the Cavaliers' head coaching vacancy mean for the Lakers' search?

Cleveland is an interesting landing spot for a potential head coach. The team has won a combined 99 regular season games over the past two seasons, making the playoffs each time and winning the aforementioned first-round series in 2023-24.

The Cavaliers also boast a roster with four of the best young players in the NBA: Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, and Evan Mobley, who are all 27 or younger.

Conversely, the Lakers are led by a soon-to-be 40-year-old James and a 31-year-old Davis. On that front alone, the Cavaliers job is certainly intriguing, as there seems to be more of a long-term appeal than the championship-or-bust window that the Lakers are likely to present a new head coach with.

In saying that, Los Angeles can hang its hat on being the most successful organization in the NBA, with 17 championship banners being as appealing as any promising roster could be.

One element of the Cavaliers situation that could ultimately benefit the Lakers is the fact that there seems to be some degree of turmoil in Cleveland. Some rumors have been contested, but the fact that such a promising Cavaliers roster could ultimately be reshuffled as soon as this offseason could cause a bit of trepidation from a prospective head coach's perspective.

That doesn't necessarily cancel out the concerns pertaining to the Lakers' aging stars and lack of cap space, but it could serve as enough of a deterrent for Los Angeles' opening to win out in terms of appeal.

The Lakers' list of preferred options to fill the coaching vacancy could also see another name added to the list: Bickerstaff himself. Bickerstaff may be on his way out of Cleveland, but the 45-year-old has been widely praised for his success with the organization.

One way or another, the Lakers' coaching search just became more competitive than Rob Pelinka and the front office may have expected it to be—both internally and beyond.