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JJ Redick And Shams Are Back, Maybe

JJ Redick is seen prior to Game Two of the 2024 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden on June 09, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Hey, look who's back! The Once And Future King, and there's still a possibility that he can pull off a belated version of this half-arsed thought

Yes, Jonathan Clay Redick is back and better than ever, interviewing for the Lakers coaching job before the 45-day coating of cobwebs is even cleared. The mortal lock for Darvin Ham's job, who once looked like a figment of Shams's febrile imagination, is back to being the heir apparent—thus reviving all the pre-Dan Hurley explainers and rationalizations for why this never-been-a-coach is back to being the next version of Steve Kerr.

Or at least that's what the anthill on a dessert cart that is the Lakers' hoop operations department desperately needs to convince us of being—that they wanted the ESPN guy from Duke and not the neighborhood gym rat from Seton Hall all along, and just made the run at Hurley because ... well, who the hell knows at this point? Certainly not Shams, and not his Spy vs. Spy antagonist, Woj. They're both professional wrestlers now, so last names are not needed. They have graduated beyond the you're-only-as-good-as-your-last-scoop realities and are ceded the title no matter how they actually do—kind of like the Lakers, as far as that goes.

Speaking of which, we have reached the stage where the real issue with the Lakers isn't Redick anyway, but the people doing the hiring and their almost embarrassing transparency. In an era in which most teams are much better at concealing their intentions, the Lakers are a bar with beaded doors and Saran Wrap walls. They wear their complete bafflement as a see-through cape, with multiple surreptitious spokespeople seemingly working at widely divergent agendas. If the Redick thing doesn't work this time, we wouldn't be surprised if they tried to hire Bill Belichick to help them win the Stanley Cup.

They provide, in their own unique way, perfect cover for Redick because whatever the holes in his coaching and political games might or might not be, the blame can't be his. I mean, nobody really knows who runs the Lakers at any given moment, and nobody seems to be bragging about it based on the results. The Lakers have become a Tiffany window with Target jewelry inside, and the only non-Bronian thing they are good at is changing the nameplates on the door to the coach's office.

The anomaly here is that the Lakers are still considered an elite operation despite not having a multibillionaire owner with a clear line of organization or record of recent success. They are, to take a soccer analogy, Crystal Palace—a cool name for a mid-table team. The Lakers have only one thing going for them outside King James, and that is how people respond to their shortcomings by saying, "Yeah, but they're the Lakers."

Does Redick change this? Probably not, because the Lakers are among the league leaders in ignoring the coach before replacing him. Does he get valuable experience learning about the non-basketball parts of the job? Absolutely, as long as his next job includes the league's next generational player/power broker. Can this work? It worked for Kerr, who was a fine additive to a smart front office with its own generational player and proper support staff.

But if Redick is there when the Lakers somehow become a genuine rather than a cosmetic power again, he can rest assured that he'll be getting none of the credit. That's already been spoken for, again and again. He will find out that being the Lakers coach is really just a way to get paid for fouling your reputation; Frank Vogel won a title coaching them four years ago and has been fired twice since that parade.

Anyway, congratulations to Redick in case he gets the job he had locked up until he didn't and now has again. He'll find out soon enough what a poisoned Thermos he just inherited, probably the first time he says or does something he would like kept within the confines of the team. Because here's the thing with the Lakers: Their locker room has Saran Wrap walls, too.

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