Mitch Kupchak patient with search
LOS ANGELES -- Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak began interviewing head-coaching candidates this week and doesn't expect to make a hire anytime soon.
"I'm sure names will come out in the next couple of days, but we've started our process and we intend to continue the process in terms of talking to potential coaches. Whether they're informal or formal interviews, we'll do both," Kupchak said Wednesday. "I would not anticipate hiring a coach in the next two to three weeks, but we'll interview several, more than three to four probably ... we have begun."
Mike D'Antoni resigned as Lakers coach April 30.
Kupchak began the process this week by interviewing Mike Dunleavy Sr., who has coached the Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers during his 17-year career in the league. He last coached the Clippers in 2010.
"I'm honored to be considered for the job," Dunleavy told ESPNLA's "Max & Marcellus" show on Wednesday. "I've had a great affinity for the Lakers since I coached here the first time back in 1990-91. I've always rooted for them other than when I was playing them in the playoffs. I know most of the people over there and I'm looking for them to get back to the top."
The Lakers interviewed Byron Scott on Tuesday, league sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard. Scott, 53, met for two hours with Kupchak and Lakers owner Jim Buss.
Several other names have emerged as potential candidates, including Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
Kupchak did not rule out the possibility of a current head coach being considered, but said such a scenario currently is not part of his thinking.
"Why wouldn't it be a possibility? We don't have a timeline," Kupchak said. "If we had a timeline for tomorrow or Friday or the weekend, then I would say that's remote, but this is going to go on at least two to three weeks. I'm not anticipating [hiring a current NBA head coach] being a part of the process, but we'll just monitor how it plays out with the teams that are out there and see what the playing field provides and make decisions accordingly."
Kupchak said ideally he would want the next Lakers coach to have head-coaching experience but that it wasn't a prerequisite.
"If I would have to say what type of a coach we were leaning toward I would say there would be experience involved certainly at some level but not necessarily," Kupchak said. "It's just too early in the process.
"Right now our interviews will be formal in terms of sitting down and talking for a couple of hours, but at some point we'll have to sit down a second time, and I think that's where we are right now, at the beginning of the process. Whether it's a veteran coach or a rookie coach, that's not something we're prepared to comment on right now."
Kupchak admitted that Kobe Bryant's role on the team over the next two years, when he will be the highest-paid player in the league, will play a part in the Lakers' decision.
"We have a player on our team who is proven in this league offensively that he can score," Kupchak said. "That certainly is a consideration; obviously I'm talking about Kobe. He's under contract for two more years, and we think he's a very integral part of this team and we have to make sure whoever we hire as the coach really gets the most productivity out of him, whether it's scoring the ball or playmaking or the threat that he may score. That's probably of primary importance right now."
Bryant has been working out at the Lakers' facility after starting an intense six-month training program last month that will take him up to the start of training camp.
"Well, we haven't seen much of him in the last year," Kupchak said. "He's been over here working out, and he looks good. Over the years his game has changed from a game where he's pretty wild and athletic and at times out of control in the early part of his career, and I would say in the past seven to eight years he's become more deliberate. He's gotten a little bit older. I think he's become more effective. I think you'll see a lot more of him posting up. I think you'll see him with the ball in his hands, making plays. At the end of games, he's going to have the ball in his hands, he's going to get a call, he's going to make free throws. The Kobe today is different than the Kobe 15 years ago. I don't think that's a secret. I think Kobe knows where on the court he's going to be most effective, whether that's playmaking or being a decoy or scoring the ball."
Scott, a native of Los Angeles and teammate of Magic Johnson for the "Showtime" Lakers, would be a popular choice among fans.
In addition, Scott is close with Bryant. The two recently talked strategy over the phone, a source told Broussard.
Scott, who won three championships as a player for the Lakers, has been a successful coach as well. He led the previously moribund Nets to back-to-back Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003, and reached the playoffs twice in six seasons with New Orleans.
Sources told Broussard the Lakers are looking to interview at least two other candidates before making their decision.
Kupchak said the Lakers will take their time in making this hire. After firing Mike Brown five games into the 2012-13 season, the team briefly courted Phil Jackson before quickly hiring D'Antoni.
"It will be a longer process for obvious reasons," Kupchak said. "Our last hire really took less than a week in Mike D'Antoni. This process will be considerably longer for a bunch of different reasons. No. 1, we have more time. No. 2, we don't really know what our team looks like, and there is no urgency right now, so it will be a more deliberate process."
Kupchak said the playoffs are not currently a factor in the Lakers' coaching search, and none of the coaching moves that have taken place this offseason among other teams has affected the Lakers' plans.
"Right now, it's not a factor," Kupchak said. "I don't see the process ending in the next 2-3 weeks. It depends how the process goes. We may want to open it up and consider other people."
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard was used in this report.