Lakers coaching search: L.A. gets permission to interview Sam Cassell, Micah

The Los Angeles Lakers appear to be taking the slow approach in finding their next head coach since firing Darvin Ham after just two seasons. Unlike the Phoenix Suns, who moved swiftly to hire former Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer after firing Frank Vogel after just one season, L.A. is reaching far and wide before deciding on who will be the franchise’s next head coach. The initial wave of targets is centered on current assistant coaches, and ex-head coaches, per ESPN, as the Lakers want to look at candidates they’re less familiar with. CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter also confirmed the news as Los Angeles looks to move toward a new person in charge.

Amongst those candidates are current Miami Heat assistant Chris Quinn and New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego, who was previously the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets from 2018-2022. Other current assistants on the list are Sam Cassell (Boston Celtics), Micah Nori (Minnesota Timberwolves) and David Adelman (Denver Nuggets). The Lakers have received permission to interview all of them, per Adrian Wojnarowski.

JJ Redick is also among possible candidatesand the Lakers were previously calling around the league to learn more about the former NBA sharpshooter. Redick has no coaching experience but is well respected around the league.

Quinn is a former NBA player who spent six years in the league with the Heat, Spurs and Cavaliers. He’s been an assistant under Erik Spoelstra since 2014, and prior to that was an assistant coach at Northwestern for a season. Coming from the Spoelstra coaching tree surely carries some weight for Quinn, and it could likely spark some interest from LeBron James, who has spoken glowingly about Spoelstra during and after his time with the Heat, where he won two championships. While Quinn and LeBron never crossed paths in Miami, as Quinn joined the Heat staff the year after James decided to return to the Cavaliers, there’s a faint connection there because of Spoelstra. That faint connection could be important for Quinn, as LeBron will surely have a say in whoever the Lakers bring in as their next head coach.

With Borrego, though he never led the Hornets to a playoff appearance, he coached them to their most wins since 2015 after finishing the 2021-22 season with a 43-39 record. That team had the eighth-best offense, and after joining the Pelicans this season, he helped them finish with the 11th-best offense a year after they finished 20th in that category. With the Lakers’ offense being middle-of-the-pack this season, bringing in an offensive-minded coach would be a good idea. During the 2024 season, the Lakers looked rudderless for long stretches of time during games.

After 15 seasons in the NBA, Cassell immediately pivoted to coaching and has been an assistant with four different teams since 2009. He is currently an assistant with the Celtics under Joe Mazzulla, and is known for his ability to connect with players.

Nori has stepped into the spotlight with the Timberwolves in recent weeks due to Chris Finch’s knee injury, which prevents him from coaching in a normal manner. Though he never played in the league, Nori has over a decade of experience as an assitant with five different organizations.

Adelman is the son of former long-time head coach Rick Adelman. Known for his player development capabilities, he has likewise been a long-time assistant and has spent the past seven seasons with the Denver Nuggets. Last season, he won his first NBA championship.

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