Some changes throughout the Los Angeles Lakers were expected after the team suffered an early exit from the NBA playoffs. The first departure has already taken place with lead assistant Jason Kidd leaving to become the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks.
It is unclear if Kidd will be taking any other Lakers assistants with him to Dallas though that remains a possibility. But also, Kidd’s departure opened up a big spot on the coaching staff, which has reportedly already been filled by a LeBron James favorite.
According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, former Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks head coach David Fizdale has agreed to join the Lakers as an assistant, choosing them over a job with the Indiana Pacers:
David Fizdale accepted Lakers assistant coach opening over more lucrative Indiana offer, @TheUndefeated learned. Former Grizzlies & Knicks coach preferred being reunited with LeBron, being home in LA and Lakers title chances. LeBron & Fiz communicated after latter agreed to deal.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) July 1, 2021
Fizdale was a long-time assistant in the NBA, most notably with the Miami Heat where he and James developed an excellent relationship. James continually vouched for Fizdale to get his chance at being a head coach, but neither of his stints in both New York and Memphis lasted two full seasons.
As Spears noted, the Lakers’ job offers Fizdale everything he is looking for. Fizdale is a Los Angeles native who attended Fremont High School, so a return home is ideal. The Lakers will also surely be one of the championship favorites next season once again, barring something unforeseen or catastrophic happening thanks to the duo of James and Anthony Davis.
Being reunited with LeBron was almost definitely the icing on the cake as the relationship shared between the two is well known throughout the basketball world. The fact that the two are already communicating is more proof of that.
In the end, the Lakers were able to fill their lead assistant role with another coach who is beloved by players and has head coaching experience. Vogel has been great at empowering and listening to his assistants during his time with the Lakers and Fizdale will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to the staff.
Fizdale & Marc Gasol have made amends since time with Grizzlies
In addition to James, Fizdale joining the Lakers also reunites him with center Marc Gasol, who he coached during his time with the Grizzlies. Unfortunately, those two did not get along with Fizdale even benching Gasol late in a game, that moment serving as a catalyst for Fizdale ultimately being let go.
But both have had time to reflect since then and Fizdale admitted that he didn’t coach Gasol the way he should have at that time, noting that he hadn’t earned Gasol’s trust enough. For his part, the Spaniard would text Fizdale just before his first game as head coach of the New York Knicks, apologizing for the way things went in Memphis.
Should Gasol remain with the Lakers, there would seem to be no hard feelings between the two sides.