Above finding a new point guard and fresh legs with a defensive mind, the Lakers have one hole that needs filling: their currently vacant head coaching post. Unlike the last time they were faced with this issue following the 2003-04 season, they have ample time to find a suitable replacement for Phil Jackson. Obviously, anyone who replaces arguably the greatest coach of all time is going to be seen as a down grade, but considering that Jackson leaves the game with 11 titles in 20 NBA seasons, that was an unavoidable reality from the moment Jackson announced that 2010-11 would be his last.
Currently, the Lakers have a solid group of potential candidates for the job. And although they would have to go in house with Brian Shaw or Chuck Person to bring in someone with a championship pedigree, their list of outside hires isn’t anything compared to what it was during the summer of 2004, when they replaced Jackson for the first time, with well-aged, past-his-prime, Rudy Tomjanovich.
Assuming Gregg Poppovich doesn’t somehow become available for hire, former Blazers, Warriors, Kings and Rockets Head Coach Rick Adelman should be viewed as the front-runner for the job. While he doesn’t have a championship ring to his name (which could be a result of losing to Phil Jackson-coached teams when his team’s were contenders), he does a fantastic job at leading a team from the sidelines. (And he has already had a few years experience coaching the enigmatic Ron Artest -– a major plus for any potential replacement.)
But regardless who the Lakers choose to hire, it is crucial for their future success, to do so soon, and to make the right decision. Obviously, this is the ideal case in many scenarios –- quick and effective — but considering where the Lakers are right now, and how much uncertainty clouds this team, it is the only option for them.