Duke basketball legend JJ Redick to become next Los Angeles Lakers head coach: ESPN sources

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Thursday, June 20, 2024
JJ Redick to be next LA Lakers basketball coach: ESPN
Redick is the leading scorer in the history of Duke, where he played four seasons under Mike Krzyzewski.

LOS ANGELES (WTVD) -- Former Duke basketball star JJ Redick will be the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, according to ESPN.

Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that Redick has agreed to a four-year contract. He said Redick accepted the job Thursday morning and has started working to build his coaching staff.

Redick, an ESPN NBA analyst who played 15 years in the league, met with Lakers vice president and general manager Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss during the weekend and conversations on the vacancy continued throughout the week, sources said.

Pelinka offered Redick the job on Thursday morning, sources said.

The 39-year-old Redick is an extraordinary choice by the Lakers, who hired the former NBA sharpshooter with absolutely no coaching experience to lead a franchise with 17 NBA titles, one of the biggest brand names in world sports - and LeBron James, the top scorer in league history.

Redick was a proficient outside shooter for six teams before his retirement in September 2021, when he moved into a career in broadcasting and podcasting. He joined ESPN's lead commentary team earlier this year.

Pelinka became sold on Redick's ability to connect with players and his basketball IQ and believes surrounding him with an elite coaching staff will help to shorten his learning curve into his first coaching job, sources said.

Redick was not the Lakers' first choice. The team was initially turned down by UConn head coach Dan Hurley, who coincidentally is the brother of another former Duke basketball icon, Bobby Hurley.

Redick moved into the forefront of the search after the Lakers were rebuffed by Hurley. The Lakers offered Hurley a six-year, $70 million contract that he turned down early last week, ESPN sources said.

As Pelinka did with Hurley, he still wants a teaching coach and staff who will prioritize the development of young players such as Max Christie, Austin Reaves, and Rui Hachimura and can design a creative approach to featuring Anthony Davis on both ends of the floor, sources said.

Redick has never coached a professional basketball team. Since retiring from the NBA, Redick has had an extremely successful media career. He most recently was named as part of the ESPN/ABC lead broadcast team for the NBA Finals.

Before Redick finished broadcasting the NBA Finals, he met with the Lakers last weekend and apparently did well enough to end the franchise's lengthy coaching search.

Redick replaces Darvin Ham, who was fired on May 3 despite leading the Lakers to two playoff berths and a Western Conference finals appearance in 2023.

Redick began recording a regular podcast with James two months ago, and their "Mind the Game" collaboration is already wildly popular, with listeners often emerging impressed by the duo's basketball acumen and high-level discussion of tactics and motivation.

Now these two minds will be working together for the Lakers, with Redick leading a roster headlined by James, who is six months younger than Redick.

Everything is contingent on James deciding to return to play with Davis and the Lakers, of course. James, who will enter his 22nd NBA season this fall, could decline his $51.4 million contract option this month to become a free agent.

But hiring Redick seems to be another calculated move by the Lakers to maximize their chances of keeping the 20-time All-Star and the driving force behind their 2020 championship team.

Redick's coaching experience is limited to his children's youth teams, but he has been around the game his entire life. He is the leading scorer in the history of Duke, where he played four seasons under Mike Krzyzewski.

And though Redick is an unorthodox choice, his unlikely ascent is not without some precedent in Lakers lore and recent NBA history.

Pat Riley was a broadcaster for the Lakers in November 1979 when Paul Westhead took over as their head coach after Jack McKinney nearly died in a bicycle accident. Westhead hired Riley as an assistant without coaching experience, and Riley became the Lakers' head coach in late 1981 after Westhead clashed with Magic Johnson.

Riley promptly led the Lakers to four championships in the 1980s to begin his incredible career as a coach and executive.

And then there's Steve Kerr, the former shooting guard and Phoenix Suns executive who had never coached before he took over at Golden State in 2014. Kerr has led Stephen Curry's Warriors to four championships and six NBA Finals appearances in the past decade.

Redick's arrival ends another unusual offseason coaching search for Jeanie Buss and Pelinka, who are hiring their eighth head coach since Phil Jackson's final departure in 2011, and their fourth since James arrived as a free agent in 2018.

Los Angeles needed six weeks to settle on Ham in the summer of 2022, but the longtime assistant coach was dismissed after the Lakers lost to defending champion Denver in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Ham led the Lakers to two winning seasons and a victory in the inaugural In-Season Tournament last year, but many fans and observers - and, clearly, the Lakers' front office - were not impressed by his leadership or preparation.

Davis memorably said during the playoffs that the Lakers "have stretches where we don't know what we're doing on both ends of the floor."

The Lakers hired Ham after firing Frank Vogel, who had been fired exactly 18 months after he won a title in the Florida bubble. Vogel replaced Luke Walton after another long coaching search in which the Lakers were widely reported to have wanted Tyronn Lue, only for a deal to fall apart over issues with money and control.

The Associated Press contributed.