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LA Lakers Rumors Roundup: Legendary coach might be influencing team to keep Russell Westbrook; head coaching search potentially slowed down because of Doc Rivers, and more - May 17th, 2022

LeBron James and Russell Westbrook of the LA Lakers.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook of the LA Lakers.
Kunal Sethi

The LA Lakers continue to get the most attention amongst teams in the NBA offseason. They will likely return next season with their core intact and many analysts have predicted they will have another mediocre season.

Their head coaching search isn't going as planned as well because many coaches don't find the destination attractive.

LeBron James held a 'Q and A' session on his Twitter profile yesterday and answered a bunch of questions regarding his future. He admitted that his goal of playing with his son, Bronny remains the same.

Let's dive into a few rumors surrounding the Purple and Gold.

LA Lakers are reportedly asking coaching candidates how they would utilize Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook of the LA Lakers against the Phoenix Suns.
Russell Westbrook of the LA Lakers against the Phoenix Suns.

Russell Westbrook had an abysmal debut season with the LA Lakers. His production was the lowest it has been since his sophomore year.

Many rumors around the league today center around a potential Westbrook trade, but according to the latest reports, the LA Lakers aren't interested in parting ways with the nine-time All-Star.

As reported by The Athletic's Sam Amick, the Lakers are asking head coaching candidates how they would use the services of Russell Westbrook. It implies that the franchise is looking forward to running it back with the 2017 MVP next season. Amick reported:

"More specifically, the notion of Russell Westbrook remaining part of their program is seeming more real all the time.
"Despite the widely held belief that the Lakers would find a way to trade Westbrook before the start of next season, sources say their coaching candidates have been asked to discuss how they would use him in their system during interviews.
"The takeaway for candidates, it seems, is that maximizing Westbrook’s presence after his disastrous 2021-22 season is considered an important part of this job."
During their interviews with head coaches, the Lakers are reportedly asking candidates how they’d utilize Russell Westbrook, a potential sign of their plans for the guard this offseason silverscreenandroll.com/2022/5/16/2307…

Phil Jackson might be influencing the LA Lakers' front office to keep Russell Westbrook

Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss courtside at an LA Lakers game.
Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss courtside at an LA Lakers game.

Phil Jackson views Russell Westbrook quite highly. Many reports suggest that Jackson's perception of the nine-time All-Star might be influencing the LA Lakers to keep him.

An earlier report implied that the Zen Master is in favor of trading James and building around Westbrook. Regardless of whether the rumors are true, Laker Nation is certainly coming across a lot of them lately.

According to The Athletic's Sam Amick, Phil Jackson is advising the LA Lakers to deal with the adversity rather than complaining about the roster. Jackson brought up the 2003-04 Lakers season when he was forced to coach a team with Gary Payton, even when he didn't want to. Amick reported:

"To that end, it’s worth revisiting my report from earlier this month about Jackson’s affinity for Westbrook. When the decision was made to fire Vogel, there was a belief from on high that Westbrook wasn’t put in a position to succeed.
"For Jackson’s part, sources say he has cited the Gary Payton dilemma in the 2003-04 Lakers season as a way of illustrating a coach’s need to make the best of roster decisions that weren’t his preference. In essence, deal with the hand you’re dealt rather than complain about it."
Phil Jackson may be influencing the Lakers to keep Russell Westbrook next season.lakersnation.com/lakers-rumors-… https://t.co/0gOi4iUyqO

Hope for Doc Rivers' availability might have delayed the Lakers' head coaching search

LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018 alongside then LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.
LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018 alongside then LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

According to NBA journalist Marc Stein, the LA Lakers have slowed down in their hunt for a head coach because they are still holding out hope for someone like Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers.

He also mentioned Utah Jazz's Quin Snyder, but focused mainly on Rivers. The Lakers have been looking for an ideal candidate since they entered the offseason and so far the search isn't going well.

Stein reported:

"Rivers has three years left on his Philadelphia contract worth a reported $24 million, while league sources maintain that the Lakers’ coaching search has moved so slowly at least in part because they want to see if Rivers or another coach from the top tier (like Utah’s Quin Snyder) makes it to the open market this offseason. One suspects that, one way or another, Rivers is going to start next season with a good job."
The Sixers have said Doc Rivers will be back. But if you listen to Woj, Ramona, Fischer, Stein, it just doesn't sound like this is an open and shut case just yet with the Lakers still "looming." Is there a win-win-win scenario here where Doc goes West?bit.ly/37Qej7f

live poll LIVE POLL

Q. Will the LA Lakers trade Russell Westbrook?

Yes

No

39 votes so far

Edited by Adam Dickson

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