JJ Redick will be Lakers' next coach as long search ends where it started

The Lakers have agreed to hire JJ Redick as their next head coach Thursday, people with knowledge of the situation but unauthorized to speak publicly confirmed to The Times — ending a prolonged search that was widely believed would end at this destination, only for a dramatic detour to emerge in the middle.

Redick, who turns 40 next week, has no formal coaching experience, but impressed Lakers officials and general manager Rob Pelinka with his vision for the team and for Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

After first offering the job to Connecticut coach Dan Hurley, a surprise candidate who turned the perception of the search on its head, the Lakers reengaged with Redick, hosting him for an interview last Saturday.

Redick is a former 15-year pro and current broadcaster.

Regarded as a bright, analytical basketball mind, Redick quickly ascended as a television analyst after his retirement in 2021. He was a pioneer in the podcasting space, being one of the first active players to be a host, before continuing with a production and podcast company in retirement.

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One of Redick’s podcasts, “Mind the Game,” is co-hosted by James.

Redick spoke with Davis earlier this week, according to people with knowledge of the conversation,

He’s the 29th head coach for the franchise and the seventh hired since Phil Jackson left the Lakers in 2011.

Redick, Hurley and James Borrego, a New Orleans assistant, were the only candidates to have in-person interviews, though Pelinka spoke with other candidates earlier in the process.

The Lakers zeroed in on Redick at the NBA draft combine, the sources said. But the team stunned people around basketball two weeks ago by offering Hurley their head-coaching job and a six-year, $70 million deal.

Even within the Lakers’ organization, Pelinka operated in silence, leaving people unsure of where things stood until formal interviews and — in this case — an early-morning ESPN report on Hurley that the Times quickly confirmed.

Former Orlando Magic guard JJ Redick, center, watches from a court side seat during the first half.

And the Lakers’ pursuit of Hurley, which began organically in Chicago, never left a tight circle, keeping it from quieting any rumors of the Lakers’ interest in Redick.

One person with a prominent role in the Lakers organization said “I’ve never been shocked more in my life,” in a text shortly after the team’s interest in Hurley went public.

Hurley declined the job days after meeting with the team.

There was genuine interest in the pursuit of Hurley and some real optimism on the Lakers' end, the sources said.

After Hurley declined the offer, the search quickly re-centered on Redick, with the former Duke star meeting with the Lakers between Games 4 and 5 of the NBA Finals, which he called for ABC/ESPN.

The Lakers are expected to add multiple former head coaches to Redick’s staff, people with knowledge of staff recruitment said. Former Oklahoma City Thunder and Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks is a name that’s been linked to the Lakers. The Times previously reported that the Lakers had interest in former Laker Rajon Rondo and Dallas assistant (and former Laker) Jared Dudley for the staff. Dudley, though, is a valued member of Jason Kidd’s staff with the Mavericks, who are coming off a Finals appearance.

Redick replaces Darvin Ham, whom the team fired after two seasons as the head coach. Despite two playoff berths, Ham’s standing within the Lakers’ locker room suffered. The team looked for a “grinder,” people with knowledge of the search said, who could give the team more of a strategic edge.

The Lakers also suffered from a lack of in-game adjustments. There are concerns, though, that any first-time head coach, particularly one with no coaching experience, will struggle with that part of the job.

Read more: JJ Redick isn't alone: How first-time NBA coaches fared with no experience

The coaching hire is the first step in an offseason during which the team is facing crucial roster decisions, particularly with James.

James is expected to opt out of his current contract. Although the sense is he’ll re-sign with the Lakers, he will be an unrestricted free agent if he declines his player option.

He has not been an active participant in the team’s coaching search, according both to people in his camp and Lakers officials.

The team has a first-round pick in the draft, and by league rules could trade that and up to two more future first-round picks, but the Lakers will have limited options in free agency. That leaves potential trades as the primary pathway for improvement. One key factor — whether guard D’Angelo Russell opts into his contract or becomes an unrestricted free agent.

The hope, after turning over the coaching position now for the fourth time during James’ time with the team, is that Redick can maximize the NBA’s all-time leading scorer as he enters the final chapter, while also providing a ramp to whatever comes next.

Redick, who is Duke's all-time leading scorer, played four of his 15 seasons with the Clippers, a key member of the "Lob City" teams with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.