Lakers Rumors: Rob Pelinka Looking For ‘Grinder’ In Next Head Coach
Rob Pelinka, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2024 NBA Playoffs rage on, the Los Angeles Lakers’ first priority in their offseason is to find their next head coach after they dismissed former head coach Darvin Ham and his staff the week they were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers haven’t had stability at the head coach spot since they parted ways with legendary head coach Phil Jackson in 2011. Since Jackson left the franchise, the team has cycled through six head coaches, which doesn’t paint the team in a bright light.

However, with the lack of openings around the league, Los Angeles should have its pick for their next head coach. The team is reportedly starting their search this week with candidates they’re less familiar with to allow themselves more time to evaluate their options.

Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka is tasked with finding the right candidate and he has reportedly continued to use one term when discussing potential options, via Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“In Pelinka’s conversations with officials across the league, the term “grinder” keeps coming up in the GM’s description of an important characteristic of the Lakers’ coach, sources said.”

The term “grinder” is normally seen as a positive in league circles because every team would like their head coach to explore all avenues to improve their roster. These types of coaches are generally more old-school and believe in a boots-on-the-ground approach, so it stands to reason that Pelinka could be looking for a veteran option to lead the bench.

According to Shams Charania and Jovan Buha’s latest report with The Athletic, being able to hold the locker room accountable is also important:

The Lakers are seeking a coach who will command the locker room and hold players accountable, as well as tirelessly gameplan and provide a level of structure and organization, according to those sources.

It’s hard to imagine that Pelinka and the rest of the Lakers brass would take another swing on a first-time head coach after what happened with Ham, which is why the initial list of candidates included names like Mike Budenholzer and Kenny Atkinson. Budenholzer already accepted an offer with the Phoenix Suns, so Atkinson seems like a logical choice.

There are also reports of L.A. being enamored with the idea of bringing in L.A. Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, though it sounds like he will earn a well-deserved extension.

Regardless of who Pelinka chooses, the team’s next head coach will need to prove they can command a locker room and be adept at making in-game adjustments in high-stakes games.

One interesting name to monitor in the Lakers’ search is New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego, who previously served as the Charlotte Hornets’ head coach and learned under Gregg Popovich during their time together with the San Antonio Spurs.

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