JJ Redick hired as Los Angeles Lakers coach on four-year contract – report

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:JJ Redick;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">JJ Redick</a> looks on before Game 4 of the 2024 NBA Finals between the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Boston Celtics;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Boston Celtics</a> and the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Dallas Mavericks;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Dallas Mavericks</a> at American Airlines Center.</span><span>Photograph: Peter Casey/USA Today Sports</span>

The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to a four-year contract with JJ Redick to make him the team’s next coach, ESPN reported on Thursday.

Redick, an ESPN basketball analyst who played 15 years in the NBA, met with Lakers vice-president and general manager Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss over the weekend and was offered the job on Thursday morning, according to the network.

The 39-year-old became the Lakers’ prime target after their pursuit of University of Connecticut coach Dan Hurley was ultimately rebuffed.

Related: Did Darvin Ham cost LeBron James his last real chance at another NBA title?

Redick, who has no formal coaching experience, has been a rising star as a broadcaster since joining ESPN in 2021, having first honed his skills in the podcasting space, where he first launched a popular podcast while he was still an active player.

One of Redick’s podcasts, Mind the Game, is co-hosted by LeBron James, who he will now coach at the Lakers.

That partnership led to a spot of controversy last week as NBA pundit Stephen A Smith questioned the timing of the podcast’s launch during the season while outgoing Lakers coach Darvin Ham was on the hot seat.

Smith went on to say that he’d been contacted by numerous Black coaches who took issue with a star player launching a podcast alongside his current coach’s potential successor, even if Redick had not publicly emerged as a coaching candidate at the time.

The First Take host’s implication was that Black NBA coaches felt LeBron was undermining the man currently in the job. Not long ago, less than 10% of NBA head coaches were Black, though last season marked the first in league history in which Black head coaches comprised the majority.

“You take all those things into account, this does not look good,” Smith said. “And what I was saying on the air last week was, you couldn’t have started it in the playoffs? You couldn’t have started it after Darvin Ham lost the job? Did you have to start it in the middle of the damn season when he’s on the hot seat? Because why? That’s what some of the coaches were saying.”

Redick began recording the regular podcast with James two months ago and their 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 Anthony Davis and the Lakers, of course. James, who will enter his 22nd NBA season this fall, could decline his $51.4m 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 owner Jeanie Buss, general manager Rob Pelinka and the Lakers, 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.

Redick played with six NBA teams, including the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks. He averaged 12.8 points in 940 regular-season games, and his 1,950 career makes from three-point range rank him 20th in NBA history in that category.