Former Nets and Bucks coach is the fourth candidate to be linked to the Lakers’ vacant head coaching position
The scope of the Lakers’ coaching search appears to be widening, even as the outside urgency to find one mounts.
According to an ESPN report, the Lakers interviewed former Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd for the vacant position Monday. A Hall of Fame point guard, Kidd accumulated a 183-190 record with the Nets and the Bucks, with a 9-15 playoff record.
Kidd is the fourth candidate to be linked to the Lakers, joining former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams and Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard. Lue and Williams interviewed for the position in the last week, and Howard reportedly had a meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
The ESPN report also introduced another figure behind the Lakers’ search: longtime assistant and current team advisor Kurt Rambis, who conducted the interview with General Manager Rob Pelinka.
The Lakers have been tight-lipped about their evolving power structure since the departure of president of basketball operations Magic Johnson on April 9. In the meantime, Pelinka reportedly has been the front office representative to speak with coaching candidates. But Rambis, who was brought back to the franchise in an official capacity in September, also is a trusted figure to team owner Jeanie Buss.
Rambis has a long history with the Lakers, spanning decades as a player in the ’80s and ’90s, as well as an assistant coach for Phil Jackson and a front office official. He is also married to Linda Rambis, who is the executive director of special projects and a close friend of Buss.
So far, the Lakers have not declared any public intention to replace Johnson, who served over basketball operations alongside Pelinka beginning in February 2017.
The competition the Lakers face for coaches is increasing: On Monday, the Phoenix Suns fired head coach Igor Kokoskov after just one season, and ESPN reported they have strong interest in Williams. The Sacramento Kings face uncertainty after hiring former Lakers coach Luke Walton just over a week ago: The team and the NBA are fact-collecting following a lawsuit alleging that Walton sexually assaulted a former Los Angeles sports reporter in a hotel room.
Kidd has extensive cachet as a player: The 46-year-old from Oakland had a 19-year NBA career in Dallas, Phoenix, New Jersey and New York while making 10 All-Star teams. He amassed the second-most assists in NBA history and won a championship with the Mavericks in 2011 (along with Lakers center Tyson Chandler). Kidd also is a contemporary of LeBron James, playing with him on the 2008 gold medal-winning Team USA squad and playing against him in the 2011 NBA Finals.
Kidd’s tenure as a coach has been more mixed: He left Brooklyn after one season despite winning a playoff series, when he left the organization under fraught circumstances. In three-and-a-half seasons with the Bucks, Kidd failed to lead the team out of the first round – this year Milwaukee has enjoyed the best regular-season record in the NBA.
Perhaps concerning given Walton’s unfolding case is Kidd’s own turbulent personal history: He pleaded guilty to spousal abuse in 2001, for which he was fined and took anger management classes. He also pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated for a 2012 car collision in Long Island.