Shaq Not Sure About New Lakers Coach

July 3, 2024

In case you missed it, Shaq’s LA Lakers have a new head coach. It’s an interesting choice, to say the least. And the big man himself has thoughts on who he would have lied to see at the top of the org chart. 

Former Dallas Mavs player and ESPN broadcaster JJ Redick has officially been selected as new head coach, after the team parted ways with second-year coach Darvin Ham back in May. Ham was fired following a first-round playoff exit against the Denver Nuggets. His overall Lakers record was good, not great, racking up 90 wins vs. 74 losses with the Lakers.

Reddick may not have been the Lakers first choice. The team apparently made an offer to University of Connecticut (UConn) head coach Dan Hurley at first. He turned down what was said to be a $70 million dollar deal for six years. Seems Hurley was more interested in saying with the Huskies to go after a third-straight Final Four national championship.

At the press conference to introduce Reddick, there were several jokes about his coaching experience. Yes, it’s true, Redick’s only coaching experience is with his son’s youth team. Reddick didn’t dodge the issue, saying, “I have never coached in the NBA before. I don’t know if you guys have heard that. My motivations for doing this, it starts with a very simple foundation of service. I think about the greatest moments, especially towards the end of my career, was about helping players, and so it starts with the desire to serve players, to serve the Lakers organization, to serve our fans.”


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It was also not lost on Reddick that the team, ownership and especially fans are looking for bigger and better things than a quick exit from the Finals tournament. Reddick said, “It’s also about competition and performance. Collaboration. Leadership. These are the things that drive me and they will all be important as I build out my staff.”

As for Shaq, he was quick to comment on the hiring on his podcast. O’Neal said, “It makes it look crazy that a guy with no experience can overshadow a guy like Sam Cassell who’s been in the league 15 years, this and that. So just let me say that, no disrespect to JJ, but I think Sam should also be able to get the same looks. But I’m happy for JJ. Lot of pressure. Winning games will not be good enough. Expectation when you take that job, when you take the Miami Heat job, when you take a job where there’s a lot of talent, the expectation is to win championships.”

Former Lakers Head Coach Darvin Ham

Reddick’s playing career included six NBA teams, including the Mavs and LA Clippers. He’s had a sport-related podcast since 2016. In fact, he was just the second active player (in any sport) to start a podcast, right rafter NFL linebacker A.J. Hawk. He became a top analyst with ESPN in 2021, moving into the slot left open by Doc Rivers, when Doc took the head coach job for the Milwaukee Bucks.

A little Lakers history: Redick now becomes the 7th LA permanent coach since Phil Jackson’s retirement following the 2010-11 season. How will he do in his first coaching position? Well, that remains to be seen of course. A few other big names have offered their comments, including another former Lakers superstar, Magic Johnson. 

On his socials, Magic posted, “I’m cautiously optimistic that this new hire is a success for both the Lakers and JJ Redick. I enjoyed watching him as a player — great 3-point shooting, high basketball IQ, passion for the game, and mental and physical toughness.”

Still, Magic was not ready to go all-in for Reddick. The history of players becoming great coaches is always open for debate, as he noted: “If he can bring how he played professionally to the Lakers — this could work out! But will his transition from star basketball player to head coach end up like Steve Kerr, Jason Kidd, Ty Lue, or Doc Rivers or the former NBA players turned coaches who weren’t successful?”

Redick will inherit a team with superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They did beat New Orleans in the tournament play-in game, but then fell to the Nuggets. James and Davis both hold player options for 2024-25, which must be exercised by June 29. If both return, other core players under contract for next season include D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Reaves, Gabe Vincent and Jarred Vanderbilt.

Of course only time will tell how the new coaching hire performs. In a press release announcing the hire, Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka said, “JJ is a fierce competitor and has an extraordinary basketball IQ and understanding of the modern game that will energize players and excite fans. His rigorous analysis will immediately unlock new opportunities for our roster while setting a foundation for player development over the long term. He brings an intense dedication to innovation, advancing the game and staying at the forefront of an ever-evolving league. Beyond his basketball acumen, JJ has a care for people and genuine empathy that are critical for connecting with players today. This is an exciting time for Lakers basketball.” 

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