Windhorst: ‘Drop That Notion’ LeBron James Was Influencing Lakers Coaching Hire

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James stands on the court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets Friday, March 22, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Nets won 111-106. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

LeBron James reportedly didn’t have a say in the Los Angeles Lakers‘ hiring of new head coach Frank Vogel. 

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, “Anyone who erroneously believed James was influencing the coach hire can drop that notion.”

The Lakers had a fascinating coaching search. The team’s first two candidates, Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue, decided against taking the job. Williams was hired by the Phoenix Suns, while Lue reportedly turned down a deal in the range of three years and $18 million, per Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Per that report, “Lue’s camp was seeking a five-year deal with a salary commensurate with a championship resume.”

Lue was reportedly a “preferred choice” for James after he served as the head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers in James’ second tenure with the organization. The Lakers reportedly wanted Lue to take on Jason Kidd as an assistant coach, and per Wojnarowski and McMenamin, “It isn’t believed that Lue had objections to Kidd joining his staff, but the two had not discussed the possibility directly.”

But Windhorst added that Lue “valued control more than he wanted this gig” with the Lakers.

So instead, Vogel was hired, agreeing to have Kidd—a former head coach himself—on his staff. That could fuel speculation that Vogel is just buying time for Kidd to become the head coach, much as David Blatt was replaced in Cleveland by Lue, who was an assistant on his staff.

Per Windhorst:

“Regardless of how James feels about his head coach, there is no way his respect for Vogel will match the level of his respect for Kidd—at least not right away. How could it? James will naturally be connected to Kidd because of their relationship and Kidd’s success in the league playing both against and with James.”

But if James indeed has no say on the head coach, any preferences between Kidd and Vogel won’t matter. What will matter is if general manager Rob Pelinka fails to land a major star or two to pair with James next season.

Pelinka has made his first major decision without former team president Magic Johnson. It’s the decisions to come, however, that will define James’ time in Los Angeles.