JJ Redick acknowledges inexperience, shares vision for Lakers

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — JJ Redick was introduced as the Los Angeles Lakers‘ coach Monday and the recent podcast host and NBA television analyst was quick to address the most glaring omission on his résumé.

“I have never coached in the NBA before,” Redick said. “I don’t know if you guys have heard that.”

Redick, whose first day on the job coincided with his 40th birthday, retired from a 15-year playing career in 2021. After starring at Duke University and scoring the 20th-most 3-pointers in NBA history, he stayed connected to basketball through various media outlets, including co-hosting a podcast with LeBron James, “Mind the Game,” and calling the NBA Finals for ESPN and ABC.

Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka countered by saying that “NBA head-coaching experience and NBA experience aren’t mutually exclusive things,” and praised the former shooting guard as someone who can be innovative, not just on the sidelines, but in shaping the entire organization.

“I think in industry in general and in sports in specific, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in patterns of being in a sea of sameness and doing the same thing that everybody else is doing,” said Pelinka, who sat next to Redick during the news conference. “But when we embarked on this search, it was really important for us to see if we could do something a little bit different. And 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.”

Redick agreed to a four-year contract last week, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

In between Games 2 and 3 of the Finals, University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley turned down a six-year, $70 million offer from the Lakers, according to Wojnarowski, after Redick had already been involved in discussions with Pelinka about the position.

“During that whole [courtship of Hurley], 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 third- and fourth-grade division. Like, I understood, you know? I understood.”

The Lakers, having also interviewed James Borrego in person and discussed the job opening with Sam Cassell of the Boston Celtics, David Adelman of the Denver Nuggets and Micah Nori of the Minnesota Timberwolves, shifted their search back to Redick — whom Pelinka said was always in the team’s “Plan A pool” of candidates.

Redick, whose production company signed a multimillion dollar distribution deal with Wondery and Amazon Music for his “Old Man and the Three” podcast in 2022, said his former coach with the Dallas Mavericks, Rick Carlisle, “planted the seed” to consider coaching and he became fully committed to the idea after interviewing with the Toronto Raptors for a coaching position in May 2023.

“It was really after I interviewed for the Toronto job last year that I knew that I wanted to be a head coach in the NBA,” Redick said. “And so the last year, I spent a lot of time talking to coaches, talking with GMs, picking their brains. … I just felt like this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

His podcast with James, which debuted in late March, will be shuttered.

“For the time being, and hopefully it’s a very, very long time, I am excommunicated from the content space,” Redick said. “So there will be no podcast. … I’m done with podcasting for now.”

The 39-year-old James, whom Redick referred to as a “friend,” maintained his distance during the interview process.

“He didn’t provide any advice,” Redick said. “LeBron and I did not talk about the Lakers job until Thursday afternoon about 30 minutes after I was offered the job. And that was very intentional on both our parts.”

James has until June 29 to opt in to the final year of his contract with the Lakers or become an unrestricted free agent. L.A. is committed to re-signing James and would offer the maximum three-year deal for which James is eligible to take him through his 24th season in the league, sources told ESPN.

Pelinka said James was “supportive” in the Lakers’ search but “chose not to be heavily involved.” Lakers center Anthony Davis “chose to be very involved,” however, according to Pelinka and was “very excited” for Redick’s hiring.

As for how Redick will coach L.A.’s two stars, he said he planned to have James — coming off a season in which he shot a career-best 41% beyond the arc — to shoot more 3s and to have Davis control more of the offense.

“One of the things I brought up with him is just the idea of him as a hub,” Redick said. “There’s a bunch of guys at the 5 position in the NBA that sort of operate in that way. I don’t know that he’s been used in that way and sort of maximized all of his abilities.”

Neither Davis or James were on hand for Redick’s introductory news conference, however a handful of Lakers players were, including Spencer Dinwiddie, Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood, Colin Castleton and Maxwell Lewis.

Redick said it would not just be Davis and James to get the Lakers back to a point where they can add to their 17 titles, but rather the strength of their group — pointing to the success that the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers had in the postseason this spring.

Redick said that championship expectations for the Lakers next season are “reasonable,” despite the team coming off a campaign in which it finished as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference and lost in five games to the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

“I don’t look at the current roster as being that far off from a championship-caliber team,” he added.

After getting ahead of his lack of coaching experience before any reporter questioned it, Redick was asked if there were any “misconceptions” about him that he noticed in the coverage of his candidacy that he wanted to clear up.

“I really don’t give a f—,” Redick said. “Like, honestly, I want to coach the Lakers. I want to coach the team. I don’t want to dispel anything. I want to become a great coach in the NBA. And I want to win championships. And I want my players to maximize their careers. That’s all I f—ing care about.”

First appeared on www.espn.com

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