Lakers view JJ Redick in the same light as one of the greatest coaches ever

The Los Angeles Lakers are not only high on JJ Redick as a potential head coach, but have internally compared him to one of the greatest coaches ever.
New York Knicks v Philadelphia 76ers
New York Knicks v Philadelphia 76ers / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

As the Los Angeles Lakers formally begin the search for Darvin Ham's replacement at head coach, the list of candidates grows ever more intriguing. Former NBA players, as well as top assistants with revered franchises, have taken center stage in what is certain to be a wild ride.

One of the most intriguing names to surface as an option for the Lakers is former 15-year NBA veteran and current ESPN analyst JJ Redick.

Redick, 39, has experienced a rather meteoric rise to prominence in the sports media space since retiring from the Association in 2021. He's been widely praised as someone who seeks to provide insight into the intricacies of sports and the athlete experience, often going against the grain in terms of shock-value statements and baseless analysis.

That includes his time on the Mind the Game podcast, which Redick co-hosts with none other than Lakers star LeBron James—whom the Lakers reportedly claim is not a part of the coaching serach.

According to Jovan Buha and Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Lakers are so high on Redick as a candidate that they've come to compare him to one of the greatest coaches of all-time: Pat Riley.

"Leaguewide, Redick — a former player and media analyst — has garnered buzz for the position. The Lakers are infatuated with Redick’s potential, according to league sources, viewing him as a Pat Riley-like coaching prospect who could both help the franchise in the short term and lead it for years."

That's not just high praise, but a comparison that will likely trigger a response in every Lakers fan across the globe.

Pat Riley is synonymous with winning championships

To some, Riley is best known for winning championships as both a head coach and an executive with the Miami Heat. To others, Riley is heralded for his stint with the New York Knicks, during which time he led the organization to perhaps its most prosperous era since the 1970s, including a trip to the 1994 NBA Finals.

Lakers fans, however, know that Riley's legacy begins in one place and one place only: Los Angeles, where he was the sideline conductor for the Showtime orchestra.

Riley began his coaching career as an assistant with Los Angeles from 1979 to 1981. He took over as head coach in 1981-82 and managed to win a championship in his first season at the helm—an expectation that Redick is likely to face, whether fair or foul.

Riley would go on to lead the Showtime Lakers to four championships and seven NBA Finals appearances during his legendary run with the franchise.

Most would agree that Riley set an all but impossible standard for Redick to live up to, but the Lakers are nothing if not ambitious.

What similarities do the Lakers see between JJ Redick and Pat Riley?

Clearly, anyone who expects Redick to come in and put together a résumé that compares to Riley's has gone far beyond the realm of optimism. Only Phil Jackson with 11 and Red Auerbach with nine have won more NBA championships as a head coach than Riley.

The qualities that made Riley great, however, may very well be present in Redick—or so the Lakers believe them to be. Per Buha and Charania:

"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."

That description of the Lakers' ideal head coach certainly sounds like Riley.

Despite the iconic image of his expensive suits and slicked back hair, Riley was as no-nonsense a head coach as they come. He held his teams to the highest possible standard on the defensive end of the floor and accepted nothing less than peak conditioning.

Riley also required that his players take the court with a selfless mentality, focusing more on the success of the team than that of the individual.

For a Lakers franchise that is four long years removed from winning its 17th championship, that approach would certainly be welcome. Despite reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2022-23, the four seasons since winning the 2020 title have been defined by injuries and inconsistency.

Adding a coach who wants players in the best possible shape while playing a style of basketball that is all about putting each other in the best possible position to succeed would be a step in the right direction.

Important context, of course, is that Riley's two seasons as an assistant coach are something that Redick has yet to experience. This would be the Duke Blue Devils legend's first coaching job of any kind, and it would be in a win-now environment with a 39-year-old James and a 31-year-old Anthony Davis as the two franchise players.

Interviews for the head coaching position have just begun, but this report should give Redick all the insight he needs into how much pressure there would be in his first-ever season as an NBA head coach.