The Los Angeles Lakers have been without a head coach since Mike D’Antoni resigned on April 30. And, according to Sam Amick of USA Today, don’t expect them to hire anyone anytime soon. It’s all part of a grand plan to land one (or more) of the NBA’s top free agents this summer.
The slow pace of the Lakers’ coaching search that began April 30 when Mike D’Antoni resigned has been timed deliberately with the upcoming free agency period in the NBA, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Specifically, the idea that the Lakers could beat the odds and land the likes of the Heat’s LeBron James, the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony or any of the other superstars who may be free agents on July 1 has led the Lakers to plod through their process so as to not limit their potential options. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the search.
James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all become free agents after this season, and Amick reports that “it remains unclear whether they will opt out or perhaps opt in as a way of keeping the Heat band together for one more season before entering free agency in the summer of 2015.”
Anthony also can opt out of his contract, and here’s where it gets interesting, Amick reports:
Yet according to two people with knowledge of the situation, Anthony’s part in this fluid free agency situation is worth monitoring as James is known to be interested in eventually playing with his close friend. Anthony also has a player option on his deal for next season (worth $23.5 million), and his connection to James has teams like the Lakers, Knicks and even the Heat wondering whether he may be able to join the four-time NBA MVP. The people requested anonymity because of sensitive nature of free agency talk.
Anthony joining Miami’s Big Three next season would be tough because of the salary permutations involved, but the Lakers have only three players with guaranteed contracts (Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre). The Knicks, meanwhile, are hoping that everyone opts in with their current teams this season and puts off their decisions until 2015, when New York will have ample salary space.
The Lakers have interviewed six coaching candidates but seem fine with waiting until free agency begins in July — when James, Anthony, Wade and Bosh make their decisions — to actually make a hire. That way, they could sweeten the deal with any big-name free agent by letting them have input into their coaching search, Amick reports.