It's been a busy week in LA basketball as the Clippers have lost their owner and the Lakers have lost their coach.
There's really not much for me to say about Donald Sterling that hasn't already been said. The man has had warped world view his entire life. He's been an embarrassment for the NBA for over 30 years. And I believe Adam Silver's decision on Sterling was the correct one.
About the only thing I'll miss about Sterling were his ridiculous LA Times ads. My personal favorite was for an "invitation only" party the Clippers held on St. Patrick's Day a few years ago. I'm sure the Times ad sales department is weeping over the events of the past week.
If Sterling is really a smart businessman, then he'll save his money on legal fees and collect the $800 million to $1 billion that a slew of big name bidders are willing to throw at him. But even if he fights this, then it's hard to see him winning.
I'd actually argue this is a fantastic time to be a Clipper fan. Their players have never had more support. And now the most major impediment to their success over the years is about to be eliminated. Some credit Sterling for the team's most recent success, but it was more about luck. He got lucky that the Lakers were denied in the Chris Paul trade. He got lucky to win the draft lottery in a year that Blake Griffin was the top pick. He got lucky that the NBA salary cap rules essentially slotted in every player's salary, so he couldn't really act like a cheapskate. He's also lucky to be in Los Angeles, where NBA players just magically want to go. For every good decision he made recently (like building a new practice facility), he'd counter it with a terrible one (like letting Neil Olshey leave as GM).
It looks like the Clippers could get a fantastic new owner, whether it's Guggenheim Partners with Magic Johnson, David Geffen, Larry Ellison, or someone else with deep pockets and charisma. Whomever it is, will be in a position to elevate the Clipper brand to the position of prominence it's always had the potential to reach.
As for the Lakers, I've written for a very long-time that Mike D'Antoni needed to go. Just because he had a tough job didn't mean that he did a good job. He proved to be a poor communicator. His system proved wrong for Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. He failed to adjust his point guard-driven system when all of his point guards got hurt this year. And his teams were a joke on defense.
The favorite to replace D'Antoni appears to be Byron Scott. That name doesn't excite me at all. Scott did a great job with the Nets in his first few years before Jason Kidd and the rest of the team seemingly rebelled against him. He got off to a good start with the New Orleans Hornets, before again losing the support of his players and suffering the worst playoff defeat in NBA history. He took over an extremely difficult situation in Cleveland, and didn't make it any better, setting a record for the longest losing streak in NBA history. I don't really see how Scott is the right answer for the Lakers.
There's plenty of big name head coaches available who have had success in the past. They include George Karl, Stan Van Gundy, Nate McMillan, and Lionel Hollins. There's also a chance that Frank Vogel and Mark Jackson could be available soon if their teams lose in the first round.
But rather than hiring a retread, I think the Lakers should look for someone fresh and new. This is the perfect time for the Lakers to hire an up-and-coming coach who is innovative and can bring in new ideas. After all, expectations for the Lakers have never been lower, so they might as well bring in someone different.
I'd love to see the Lakers go after Kevin Ollie. A 13-year NBA veteran, Ollie just led UConn to a NCAA National Championship in just his second year. If Ollie wants to stay in college though, then they should also consider assistant coaches like Patrick Ewing of the Bobcats, David Fizdale from the Heat, or Chip Engelland of the Spurs. I also like Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg. Another name to consider is Derek Fisher, who reportedly received consideration for the Knicks head coaching job.
Either way, I think the Lakers should look at this vacancy as an opportunity to try something new, rather than rehash something that has been done before.