Ideal long-term coach replacement for Lakers is officially off the table

The Lakers missed out on convincing a Hall of Famer to return as their head coach.
Los Angeles Lakers, Rob Pelinka
Los Angeles Lakers, Rob Pelinka / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Darvin Ham on Friday and plan to examine several possibilities for his replacement. There is no shortage of options with varying degrees of experience. The Lakers must nail this hire. LeBron James turns 40 in December, and they have zero time to waste. Some candidates don’t fit, but who does?

LA was rumored to be interested in two current head coaches. Tyronn Lue made it clear, he wants to stay with the Clippers immediately after they were bounced in the first round of the playoffs. Lue has experience coaching LeBron James from their days in Cleveland and the championship head coach would have been a massive get for the Lakers.

Los Angeles also had interest in bringing back Jason Kidd. The current Mavericks head coach spent two years as a Lakers assistant, including coaching on their 2020 championship team. Kidd would have been a significant hire, but that possibility vanished on Monday morning.

Jason Kidd will not be the Lakers next head coach

After their first-round win over the Clippers, the Mavericks announced J-Kidd signed an extension to remain their head coach. He had just one season left on his contract, but Dallas could not let him get away. The Hall of Famer has strong relationships with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving and led the franchise to the conference finals in 2022. Kidd is no stranger to drama, but it has not shown up in Dallas.

The Lakers missed on another massive opportunity. Kidd has won 56.9 percent of his games as Mavericks head coach and made two playoff runs in three seasons. His existing relationship with LeBron and Anthony Davis would have been massive in getting the team’s ear and making changes. Kidd’s experience as a Hall of Fame player could have also made a significant impact on the Lakers. He was well-respected during his first stint in LA, but the franchise let him get away.

The point guard turned head coach will remain in Dallas for the foreseeable future, and the Lakers coaching search will shift to other options. They are unlikely to get a current NBA head coach. LA’s priorities move to available targets.

Mike Budenholzer is the one championship head coach on the market. The Lakers could also go for Kenny Atkinson or another experienced HC. Hiring a first-time head coach did not work with Darvin Ham, but it may be the team’s best route if they do not believe Bud or Atkinson can take them to the next level.

The Los Angeles Lakers are feeling the pressure. They fired Ham after a first-round playoff exit and just one year removed from being in the conference finals. The Lakers want to compete for championships and have zero time to waste. Who is their next head coach? It won’t be Jason Kidd, but the franchise must get it right. If they don’t, LA will be searching for their ninth head coach since Phil Jackson’s departure in 2011. That is something nobody wants.