The Los Angeles Lakers, following a disastrous first season with LeBron James that saw them miss the playoffs, are widely expected to fire coach Luke Walton. This has led to lots of speculation about who might replace him, with names mentioned including Tyronn Lue and Jason Kidd.
Now, a new name has emerged: former University of Michigan and NBA player Juwan Howard.
According to The Big Lead, citing BetOnline, Howard is suddenly the betting favorite to coach the Lakers. Howard is the leader with 4-1 odds, with Lue second with 7-1. The odds of Walton remaining coach are 7-1. Next on the list are former Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau, Kidd, Jerry Stackhouse, and Derek Fisher. Stackhouse, according to reports yesterday by ESPN.com, is in talks to become coach at Vanderbilt University.
Bringing up the rear in the betting markets are James and team executive Magic Johnson (500-1 each) and LaVar Ball (1,000-1).
It’s unclear what exactly moved the betting markets Howard’s way, as there has been nothing stated by any major NBA reporter indicating that he is a Lakers coaching candidate, or a candidate for any other league head coaching job,.
The 46-year-old Howard is currently an assistant coach with the Miami Heat, and was both a teammate and assistant coach during LeBron James’ tenure with the Heat. Howard, part of Michigan’s famous Fab Five team in the early 1990s, played nearly 20 years in the NBA, winning a pair of championships towards the end of his career with Miami. After his retirement in 2013, Howard moved over to the Heat’s coaching staff.
What happened to make Juwan Howard the betting favorite to be the next coach of the Lakers? https://t.co/uTCJPtXD2n— The Big Lead (@thebiglead) April 2, 2019
Howard played for eight teams in his long NBA career, including Dallas and Denver twice each, but he never played for the Lakers. However, Lue both played for the Lakers and was previously James’ coach with Cleveland. After the team fired Lue in 2018, James said, per Bleacher Report, that he has “nothing but respect” for the coach.
Kidd, another rumored coaching candidate, also was never a Laker, but Stephen A. Smith of ESPN reported last week that, contrary to chatter from other NBA reporters, the Lakers are not actually interested in Kidd as a potential coach. The NBA Hall of Famer formerly coached both the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks.
On James’ various teams, he has always been presumed to have a great deal of power over not only who coaches the club, but in relation to the team’s personnel moves, as well.