What's next for Lakers after Juwan Howard passes?
Michigan coach Juwan Howard reportedly has no interest in taking on the head coaching spot with the Los Angles Lakers after declining a chance to interview, leaving LeBron James’ team in a coaching limbo.
Why would Howard turn down a chance to coach in Los Angeles, especially since Howard has a history with both Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka — who played with Howard at Michigan — and James — with whom he won back-to-back NBA championships with the Miami Heat?
One theory is that Howard wants to stay close to home.
Jace Howard is a sophomore guard for the Wolverines, and his younger brother, Jett, is an incoming four-star recruit at small forward who is committed to Michigan for the 2022-23 season.
"I don't think it's about his sons, I think it's about a dream job," Walker said. "He's living the dream right now. He's coaching his alma mater, and it's tough to leave that to go to a Lakers situation with LeBron James being at the end of his career, and the second-best player — Anthony Davis — on the team hasn't played a full season. I don't think he would want to do that because that could be a job that ends in three years, where at Michigan, he could probably be there the next 15 years. So, I think that's what he was looking at, the long-term situation … and Juwan [has] done a terrific job at Michigan."
On "Undisputed," Shannon Sharpe agreed that Howard passing on the position doesn't come as a surprise, pointing out that he wouldn't want a job where he is told "what to do, when [and] how to do it" either.
"How long is LeBron gonna be there? What about AD? Can AD stay healthy long enough for us to even compete for a title? What am I gonna do with [Russell Westbrook]? … He's uncoachable," Sharpe said.
"They're gonna be people constantly looking over your shoulder … right now with the uncertainty."
Howard joined the Heat's coaching staff ahead of the 2013-14 season. He previously interviewed for the Lakers' job in 2019 when he was a Miami assistant before taking his current position at Michigan.
Former head coach Frank Vogel was relieved of his duties shortly after the 2021-22 season ended. The Lakers will be hiring their eighth head coach since Phil Jackson departed after the 2010-2011 season.
The question remains: Who should the Lakers hand the reins to?
With Howard out of the mix, the final three coaches expected to be interviewed for the vacancy are Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.
"Of the names on that list, Darvin Ham to be clearly would be No. 1," Nick Wright said. "I also think Kenny Atkinson did a really good job in Brooklyn, but that was a young, upstart team — very different coaching LeBron and Anthony Davis. I don't have much interest in Terry Stotts. I suppose he's better than if Doc Rivers were still an alleged candidate."
Wright went on to break down which individual from the organization the Lakers should part ways with.
"While Frank Vogel didn't do a good job this past year with the Lakers, … the guy that should have been fired didn't get fired in Rob Pelinka. You watch these conference finals, and all these teams have young, athletic wings and have shooters. And then there's the Lakers. Their best wing is gonna be in Year 20."
The Lakers had the oldest roster in the NBA entering last season at an average age of 30, led by soon-to-be 38-year-old Carmelo Anthony, James (37 years old) and Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo (36).
Los Angeles struggled last season, finishing 11th in the West at 33-49 as the Lakers' Big 3 of James, Anthony Davis and Westbrook played only 21 of a possible 82 games together.