Interview process continues in L.A.
LAS VEGAS -- The Los Angeles Lakers expect to hire a coach in the next week or two, but they do not consider the interview process to be finished, according to a league source.
While former Lakers great Byron Scott has been considered the leading candidate for the position for weeks, having gone through multiple interviews with management and having received an endorsement from none other than Kobe Bryant last week, even he likely would need another interview before being named coach, according to the source.
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General manager Mitch Kupchak addressed the search in an interview with NBA TV during the Lakers' 89-88 overtime win over the Golden State Warriors in summer league play Monday.
"Maybe we can wait until September," Kupchak joked. "Obviously that's one of the next things that we're going to address, and with putting the roster together and getting through the draft and getting through this last period, a week or two, the next thing we're going to work on is the coach, and I think we're going to have somebody in the next couple weeks."
The Lakers have contacted five coaches besides Scott about the position -- Mike Dunleavy, Kurt Rambis, Alvin Gentry, Lionel Hollins and George Karl (although the phone call between Karl and Kupchak was characterized as more of a casual conversation than an interview).
Three of those candidates have accepted new jobs in the time that has passed since talking to the Lakers. Hollins was hired as coach of the Brooklyn Nets after Jason Kidd bolted for the Milwaukee Bucks, while Gentry (Warriors) and Rambis (New York Knicks) accepted associate head-coaching positions.
"We may continue to interview, but we have a pretty good feel of what's available and we're comfortable that we can get a good coach, probably in the beginning of July," Kupchak told reporters on draft night.
Scott is remaining patient with the process.
"It's still open," Scott said when asked about the coaching position during a call-in segment with the Lakers' television partner, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, on Friday. "I know, in my dealings in talking with Mitch and Jim [Buss, vice president of player personnel], they want to get the roster together and then focus on the coaching. So, myself, or whoever else are the other candidates, that's what we're all waiting for and we're kind of looking at what's going on [in free agency] to see if that's all done and then see next week what they're going to do with the coaching vacancy.
"So, it's just one of those things that's a wait-and-see game right now, but like I said, I like the moves that they made today. I think it's going to help the team and strengthen the team, and obviously it still puts them in a good, flexible position for next year."
As the month of July creeps into its third week, the Lakers' priority is to continue to fill the team through free agency (agreeing to terms with Nick Young and Jordan Hill last week) and by scouring the trade market (such as the deal they made with Houston to acquire Jeremy Lin), before switching their focus back to the coaching search.
Lakers management also is preoccupied with evaluating the team's young talent at the summer league. Both Kupchak and Buss are in Las Vegas this week to see draft picks Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson in action, along with the rest of the roster such as Kendall Marshall and Iowa State undrafted free agent guard DeAndre Kane, who are fighting to earn a spot with the Lakers for the regular season.