Lakers Choose Anthony Davis Over LeBron James With JJ Redick Decision

The Lakers' Dan Hurley-JJ Redick decision shows a clear preference for keeping Anthony Davis happy instead of LeBron James.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The sudden shift in the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching search, zeroing in on UConn's Dan Hurley as the favorite candidate instead of JJ Redick, obviously has major implications for the future of the franchse.

The two would be coaches of entirely different styles. The young Redick would almost surely be a players-coach — someone it's easy for veterans (especially certain veterans) to get along with. Hurley seems like a lot more of a no-nonsense coach, which is often what we see from coaches at the college level.

But the biggest message this news sends isn't just about the culture of the team. It's that the Lakers are choosing Anthony Davis over LeBron James.

Reports first leaked yesterday that Redick was not Davis' favorite candidate for the job. LeBron has never come out and publicly expressed his opinion, but the obvious assumption is that, as his friend and podcast co-host, Redick's connection to the Lakers was almost entirely driven by James.

Of course, in vacuum one decision like this may not be directly about either star. It might just be what they think is best for the franchise. But this isn't happening in a vacuum.

How about last offseason, when the Lakers chose to extend four young players through at least 2026 rather than pursuing Kyrie Irving? Irving and LeBron had mutual interest in reuniting, and LeBron said on his last podcast that he is "f---ing mad" to not be playing alongside Kyrie.

So now we've got LeBron — a guy who notoriously desires significant control of roster and coaching decisions — with the option to opt out of his contract. We've got Davis locked up to a long-term deal. And we have the Lakers deciding, for the second straight offseason, that they're going to ignore the major move that LeBron wants.

Last year's decision signed a core to play alongside Davis through most of his contract, and this one avoids a head coach that Davis wasn't necessarily interested in playing for.

The question really doesn't seem to be whether they are choosing Davis over LeBron, but rather whether that is the right decision. And honestly, it's hard to fault the franchise. How much do you want to mortgage your future to keep LeBron happy for one more season, especially when the team hasn't looked especially close to winning a championship for the last couple of years?

This isn't to say the Lakers are necessarily making the right moves to win a championship. Banking on Hurley to suddenly build this core into budding new stars around Davis seems like a long shot.

And of course, there's still the chance LeBron picks up his option anyway and plays out his contract with the Lakers. On a personal level, he wants to be in Los Angeles, and for all the comments about not necessarily just wanting to play wherever Bronny does, the Lakers drafting his son would be a pretty good olive branch after ignoring his preferred coaching hire.

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