Lakers officially name JJ Redick as coach: Why storied franchise pursued the former player-turned-analyst

Newly-hired Los Angeles Lakers head coach JJ Redick speaks to the media during an introductory news conference Monday at the UCLA Health Training Center in Los Angeles. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY)

The Los Angeles Lakers named JJ Redick as coach, the team announced Monday. Redick, the 29th coach in franchise history, was officially introduced at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Redick, who turned 40 on Monday, made it clear that he’s embracing the pressure, spotlight and championship expectations of coaching the Lakers.


“Sitting in this seat, I know what the expectations are,” Redick said. “Lakers fans have some of the most passionate fans around the world. And the expectation is a championship. And so it’s my job, it’s our staff’s job, it’s (general manager Rob Pelinka’s) job, it’s all of us, to deliver a championship-caliber team. That’s what I signed up for.”

Redick openly acknowledged his lack of NBA coaching experience multiple times — he’s never coached above the youth level — and noted that that doesn’t mean he isn’t qualified to take the coaching leap.

“I have zero coaching experience in the NBA,” Redick said. “But I would argue that I’m very experienced. And it started 22 years ago when I went to Duke and I got to play for Coach K for four years, spent 15 years as a player. Honestly, the last three years have been invaluable in preparing me for this moment.

“Being able to connect to players, talking to them on the podcast, being in coaching interviews with ESPN, calling games, analyzing the game in three different formats. All of that has helped prepare me to be an NBA head coach.”

Pelinka, also the Lakers vice president of basketball operations, said the team wanted an out-of-the-box hire and an innovative, adaptable basketball mind who would grow with the franchise for years to come.

“Quickly in our conversations with JJ, it was very evident that he had a unique perspective and philosophy on basketball and how it’s to be taught,” Pelinka said. “We shared a basketball philosophy that was very similar. And it was based on a high-level strategy. It was based on a certain way of communicating with players and teaching them. And probably most importantly, prioritizing player development.”

Despite the Lakers’ public pursuit of UConn coach Dan Hurley, Pelinka noted that Redick was always among the Lakers’ “Plan A pool of coaches” and the two maintained strong communication throughout the process.

Redick clarified that he wasn’t bothered by the Lakers’ attempt at Hurley, recognizing the vast difference in their coaching experience and resumes.

“During that whole four-day period, at no point was my ego or feelings hurt or bruised in any way,” Redick said. “Dan Hurley is a two-time national champion at UConn. I am a two-time 55 Swish League champion in the 3rd- and 4th-grade division. Like, I understood, you know? I understood.”

Redick, who was the most forward-facing of the Lakers’ coaching candidates given both his high-profile playing and media career, said he will no longer be podcasting now that he is a coach. He also said that he and LeBron James, who were co-hosts on the recent “Mind the Game” podcast, did not communicate during the interview process. Redick added that James called him 30 minutes after he was offered the position and the two spoke on the phone for 15 to 20 minutes.

Pelinka shared that James was “supportive” of the hire but mostly stayed out of the decision-making. Anthony Davis, meanwhile, was more involved and a supporter of Redick, according to Pelinka. Davis and Redick spoke on the phone about team strategy for next season, as The Athletic reported last week.

“LeBron was very supportive of us in our process, but chose not to be heavily involved,” Pelinka said. “And we respected that. Anthony Davis, our other captain chose to be very involved and was very involved. I talked to him throughout the process and got a lot of help and wisdom from him. And he was very excited for today.”

Pelinka and Redick’s partnership will immediately be tested with the NBA Draft on Wednesday and Thursday and free agency opening on Sunday. Pelinka hinted that the team is going to be aggressive in looking for potential upgrades in the trade market — the Lakers will have access to their three tradeable first-round picks on Wednesday — but admitted it could be difficult considering the financial limitations with the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement for teams above the first apron, which the Lakers project to be above.

“JJ hit it on the head when he said our goal is to build a team that competes for championships,” Pelinka said. “Whether that’s in the short term or the long term, we always have to balance those two things. I do think in this system, as I opened, some of the trades are more difficult, especially if you have a second apron team and a first apron team. There’s a chance we’ll be in the first apron. The trades are less prevalent than they used to be.

“So will we look for trades that help us become a better team? Absolutely. Are those trades, did they have the same probability that they did under the old system? No, it is a different system. So we’ve got to be mindful and thoughtful around that.”

Lakers players in attendance included Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood, Spencer Dinwiddie, Maxwell Lewis and two-way center Colin Castleton.

The Lakers and Redick agreed to a four-year deal, team sources said Thursday. The contract is in the neighborhood of $8 million per season, according to sources briefed on the deal.

Redick was considered the front-runner in league circles for most of the coaching search, which was ongoing since Los Angeles fired Darvin Ham in May after two seasons.

Redick spent 15 seasons in the NBA with six teams, most notably the Orlando Magic and LA Clippers. A renowned shooter, he posted a career average of 12.8 points per game with 41.5 percent 3-point shooting, 44.7 percent from the field.

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