Home Sports Five takeaways from Lakers hiring J.J. Redick — it’s just the first step

Five takeaways from Lakers hiring J.J. Redick — it’s just the first step

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2024 NBA Finals: Game Two

2024 NBA Finals: Game Two

JJ Redick will be the new coach of the Los Angeles Lakers

This is somewhat expected but still surprising. Redick’s name was floated as a potential candidate from the moment Darvin Ham was fired (and, in speculative circles, even before Ham was fired). He’s been the clear favorite for most of the process, except for a flirtation with UConn’s Dan Hurley.

Still, it’s surprising because the Lakers have chosen a completely inexperienced coach at a time of transition for the franchise, trying to win now in the final years of LeBron James’ career while building something sustainable for a post-LeBron world.

The Lakers made a high-risk, high-reward hire. Here are five takeaways from this measure.

Hiring Redick is just the first step, roster improvements needed

It doesn’t matter whether Redick is good as a head coach or not if Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka doesn’t improve the roster this offseason.

LeBron James, not coincidentally Redick’s podcast partner, and Anthony Davis remain the hosts. Redick told the Lakers during the interview process that he wants to increase Davis’ role. reports El Atlético.

Redick described a system molded around this roster, focusing on elevating Anthony Davis’ involvement, particularly late in games, and alleviating James’ constant ball-handling duties by using him more off the ball. Keeping James, who will turn 40 in December, fresh through the final stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs will be key.

That means finding another high-level ball handler and shot creator on the trade market. Trae Young is a name that has emerged as a potential trade target, and a couple of hours after Redick was hired, Young posted this on X (formerly Twitter).

The Lakers need more than stars. Look at the last two NBA champions, Boston and Denver, and it will be clear how important it is to have quality role players who mesh well with the stars. In addition to another ball handler, Pelinka needs to improve the talent on the wings (having a healthy Jarred Vanderbilt will help).

Redick needs to do his part, putting players in better positions and developing players like Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and Max Christie to take the next steps in their careers.

Ultimately, talent wins in the NBA, and the Lakers need more if they want to avoid the play-in next season in what will be a better, deeper Western Conference.

Be patient and give Redick time to adjust to the job.

You have to give Rob Pelinka credit, he didn’t play it safe.

Redick is a mold-breaking hire: He’s not a former head coach or a top assistant, and he’s not a former Laker (in fact, he’s a former Clipper).

The Lakers needed to break the mold and try something new.

With that has to come patience. Perhaps the most mentioned statistic during the Lakers’ coaching search was that the team had finished higher than seventh in the West just once in the last twelve years (2020, when they won the title). The coaching turnover has been a sign of an impatient front office and ownership without a plan: No coach since Phil Jackson has lasted more than three years with the Lakers.

Redick could be the man to break that streak, but the Lakers need to be patient and let him learn on the job. Let him make mistakes, suffer losses and grow. Boston management wasn’t fazed by rookie Joe Mazzulla’s struggles (to be fair, he was put in the job at the last minute of his first year). He obviously grew into the role.

One thing in Redick’s favor: If he fails at this job, the ax won’t just be headed his way. This is Rob Pelinka’s third coaching hire with the Lakers, and during that process he tried to undervalue Tyronn Lue (only three years and wanted to put coaches on his staff) and then didn’t offer Hurley enough money to get him out of UConn (that number may have been out of Pelinka’s control, but then don’t go any further).

Because Pelinka knows he’s in trouble if Redick takes another swing and misses, he has to be patient.

Redick has to manage pressure and expectations

One of the hardest parts of the Lakers coaching job is dealing with the attention, the rabid fan base and the outsized expectations compared to the talent on the roster, and that’s not just about the fans, it’s about Directive. The Lakers only hang championship banners and rarely celebrate incremental success. It can lead to short-term thinking when creating lists.

Unreasonable expectations will begin this season. Lakers fans will shore up the team’s roster by saying that Denver is the only team to beat them in the playoffs in the last two years. As always, expectations will be high. Reality says the Lakers should be behind Dallas, Denver, Minnesota, Oklahoma City and Memphis (a 50+ win team that’s all healthy) to start the season. That makes the Lakers look like a 6-8 seed and probably a play-in team again. That may not sit well with LeBron, the front office or the fan base.

Redick shouldn’t let all the media attention, social media fans and expectations get to him. He just keeps grinding.

Help Redick with a veteran team of assistant coaches

Since he hasn’t done it, Redick needs people around him who have done this before. The Lakers need to spend on assistant coaches and build a veteran staff to help guide the rookie coach.

That starts with hiring an experienced former head coach as a top assistant. Former Thunder coach Scott Brooks, now an assistant in Portland, is a name that came up. Another is former 76ers head coach and former Spurs assistant Brett Brown. He never hurts to call up Stan Van Gundy, although he’s up for debate if he wants to leave his comfortable broadcast chair to be an assistant coach.

After that, look for former veteran players. Rajon Rondo has been mentioned. So have Jared Dudley in Dallas and Sam Cassell in Boston (although taking those guys off winning teams is unlikely and very expensive if they’re successful).

Whoever it is, give Redick some guys he can lean on.

Let Redick be Redick (stop with Spoelstra’s compositions)

This ties in somewhat to the patience theme above: Don’t try to put Redick in the box of being the next Pat Riley or Erik Spoelstra. Let it be Redick.

Some fans and media have wanted to compare Redick to Miami’s hiring of Spoelstra, the man today considered the best coach in the league. That’s a terrible analogy. Spoelstra never played in the NBA and started as a video coordinator, rose through the ranks, proved he was a great player, became an assistant coach, learned and improved, then had the right mix of preparation and personality when he earned the title. job. Plus, he had Pat Riley’s backing (even though LeBron James wanted him gone). That’s not Redick’s way.

Riley also doesn’t follow Redick’s path, although he was a broadcaster, he was also an assistant coach for a couple of years.

That doesn’t mean Redick won’t work; I very well could do it. His basketball IQ and his work ethic are not in question. While Redick’s lack of experience is a concern, he is not someone who comes to the job with the red flags seen in some first-time head coaches.

But be patient, give it a chance, and let Redick be Redick.

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