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Lakers are 'very close' to hiring a coach, owner Jerry Buss says

In a radio interview, Buss says he expects the Lakers' core roster to return with a few tweaks. He also says the team won't continue exclusively with the triangle offense.

May 24, 2011|By Mark Medina
  • Lakers owner Jerry Buss says the team is "very close" to hiring a new coach.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss says the team is "very close" to hiring… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Lakers owner Jerry Buss said in a radio interview Tuesday that the team is "very close" to hiring a coach to replace Phil Jackson and that he expects the Lakers' core roster to return next season, with a "tweak … here or there."

Buss was interviewed by Playboy Radio's Michael Eaves and Bonnie-Jill Laflin on Sirius XM Radio.

The Times has reported that the Lakers' coaching candidates include Rick Adelman, Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Van Gundy, Mike Brown and Lakers assistant Brian Shaw.

Buss was asked whether the Lakers would hire a head coach within a week. "I don't know exactly when, but a week is a long time," he told Sirius XM. The Lakers' owner didn't mention any candidates by name.

One uncertainty about the Lakers' next coach is whether he will utilize the triangle offense, as Jackson did.

"We're not going to continue exclusively with the triangle," Buss said. "Certainly, there will be facets of the triangle incorporated into any modern offense."

Various Lakers, including Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Luke Walton, have publicly endorsed Shaw to be the next coach, in part because of his familiarity with their personnel.

"We really don't consult the players on these matters," Buss said. "Obviously, we have to select somebody who has a reputation that players would be happy with. But to ask a direct player to select a particular coach, that's general manager territory."

The Lakers' quest for a third consecutive title ended more than two weeks ago when they were swept in the second round of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks. Buss called the Lakers' 122-86 loss in Game 4 "very disappointing and humiliating."

But he sounded upbeat about the Lakers' prospects next season.

"We may have to tweak it here or there, but as far the core is concerned, we have some of the best players in the NBA, if not the best players in the NBA," Buss said. "I don't think there's going to be any drastic change."

The Lakers for now have the NBA's largest player payroll for next season, with a guaranteed $87.6 million committed to eight players.

Buss added that he and Bryant "have formed a mutual admiration society. I think he realizes that of all owners in the NBA, I want to win more desperately. …That gives us a certain relationship that perhaps other owners and players do not have."

Among the many uncertainties for the NBA, however, is whether there will be a 2011-12 season. The collective-bargaining agreement between the league and the players expires on June 30, and a lockout remains likely.

"I don't think we can allow it to affect our planning," Buss said of a potential lockout. "Everybody is aware of it, but everybody is hoping and praying. Both sides … are saying we don't want this. We'll keep our fingers crossed. But in terms of selecting our coach, we are neglecting a potential lockout."

Medina is a correspondent for The Times.

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