The Lakers announced Thursday that they are signing retired NBA player and ESPN analyst J.J. Redick as their next coach, replacing Darvin Ham. The contract will reportedly keep Redick in Los Angeles for the next four years.

The Lakers’ seven-week search for their next coach has been one of the most closely watched stories in basketball, mainly because of the power of name recognition. After Los Angeles’ first-round exit from the playoffs and Ham’s dismissal, it didn’t take long for Redick to become a potential candidate.

For a brief moment two weeks ago, however, Redick and all other potential candidates faded from view when the Lakers began negotiations with UConn men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley. After several days of negotiation, Hurley declined the team’s six-year, $70 million offer and decided to return to the Huskies. The hunt continued, and the Lakers eventually landed on Redick.

Beyond his reputation as a thorough and knowledgeable analyst, Redick’s appeal to the Lakers was also likely personal. With LeBron James headed for free agency, Redick’s friendship with the generational talent undoubtedly boosted his prospects. The two of them host a podcast providing in-depth basketball analysis.

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The Lakers are clearly interested in re-signing James, which would soften the potential blow of hiring Redick, an outsider with no coaching experience. The team is also one of the few currently scouting Bronny James, LeBron’s 19-year-old son, as the draft pick could give the team a better case to keep its star after a disappointing 2023-24 season.

Though Redick is a chip for the Lakers to coax James into returning, he must also be viewed as an individual in his ability to help the team. Los Angeles has had a fair share of success with James and big man Anthony Davis, winning the NBA Finals in 2020 and making a surprise run to the Western Conference Finals in 2023. Still, the team has often failed to meet expectations and fallen behind several conference rivals.

Some have speculated that the last few people to coach the Lakers have played second fiddle to the team’s stars, but Redick will still be expected to uphold the duties of an NBA-caliber coach. He will have to learn on the fly under some very bright lights.

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