Lakers Icon Rejects Head Coach Role

Lakers intensify search for new head coaching leadership.

by Abdullah Magsi
Lakers Icon Rejects Head Coach Role
© Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are ramping up their search for a new head coach, with several high-profile names surfacing as potential candidates. However, one person has explicitly declined interest in the role: Lakers icon Magic Johnson.

When approached by TMZ on May 14 regarding the possibility of returning to coach the Lakers, Johnson's response was a resolute string of declines. "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Thank you though," Johnson stated, firmly closing the door on any speculation about his return to the Lakers' sidelines.

Magic Johnson, a celebrated Hall of Famer, previously held the position of head coach for the Lakers during the 1993-94 season but stepped down after just 16 games. His tenure with the Lakers also includes a stint as the President of Basketball Operations from 2017 to 2019, which he also left abruptly.

Despite his legendary status as one of the NBA's greatest players, his brief and turbulent administrative and coaching roles with the team make a leadership comeback unlikely. Johnson, however, continues to support the Lakers, expressing his hopes that the team secures a competent leader.

"It’s up to the Lakers and Jeanie [Buss] and Rob Pelinka. I hope they get a good one, though," he remarked, underscoring his ongoing allegiance to the franchise.

Progress in the Lakers' Coaching Search

While the Lakers have been methodical in their search, other teams with vacancies have swiftly filled their coaching spots.

The Lakers, on the other hand, are carefully evaluating candidates, having initiated contact and interviews this week. According to Shams Charania and Jovan Buha of The Athletic, three individuals have risen as primary contenders for the head coach position: JJ Redick, James Borrego, and Sam Cassell.

Borrego brings prior experience as a head coach with the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets, while Cassell, a seasoned assistant coach and former NBA player, presents a strong case for his promotion to a head coach role.

Redick, though lacking in coaching experience, maintains close ties with LeBron James and has extensive insights from his 15-year playing career.

Evaluating the Candidates

Among the candidates, Redick stands out as the most captivating but risky choice, given his inexperience.

His deep basketball knowledge is undeniable, but leading a team fraught with high expectations and intense media scrutiny could pose significant challenges. Borrego represents a more conservative option, with proven head coaching experience, although his teams have never reached the playoffs, which might be considered a downside.

Cassell appears as a compelling choice. His impressive credentials include an All-Star appearance and three NBA championships as a player. His transition to a head coaching role could leverage his extensive experience without the baggage of past coaching failures.

As the Lakers continue their deliberations, the choice of their next head coach will be crucial in shaping the team's future trajectory and fulfilling the high aspirations of its passionate fan base.