When Juwan Howard entered the rumor mill as the prospective Los Angeles Lakers head coach, many felt he was on top of the priority list given his ties to LeBron James. But as it turns out, Howard is not keen on capitalizing on this advantage.
Ann Arbor with sons
The Lakers already have a shortlist of candidates: Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, and former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts. Howard would’ve been included in this list and would have easily climbed up the ladder. But he has opted to remain with the Michigan Wolverines, a program he led to the no.1 seed in the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. Howard was named national Big Ten Coach of the Year for his outstanding efforts.
“The Lakers never made a formal offer to Howard, sources said, but it’s clear that if he had expressed an interest in the job, his candidacy would’ve moved quickly to that stage. While Howard has a playing history with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and star LeBron James, he has consistently maintained he plans to remain in Ann Arbor, where his sons Jace and Jett will be a junior and freshman, respectively, next season,” per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Howard spent the last three seasons of his NBA career with Miami. Though he did not play very much, Howard embraced the role of a veteran voice — a crucial role for any team vying for the title.
The Lakers have had their eyes on Howard since 2019. When he was an assistant for the Heat, the Lakers interviewed him for the head coaching post. But Howard took a different route and returned to his alma mater instead.
The Boston Celtics, too, wanted Howard at the coaching helm. When Brad Stevens moved up as the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, they were looking at Howard as his replacement. Howard declined and continued to coach at Ann Arbor.
The Lakers front office will interview Ham, Atkinson, and Stotts in the near future. Reports reveal that the team is looking for a coach who knows how to utilize Russell Westbrook — a job they feel Frank Vogel failed in. They’re also looking for a coach who commands respect from the players, someone who can control egos.
In the next few weeks or months, the Lakers might finally name their new coach. Given the Lakers’ rich winning culture, whoever it is will be under the crosshairs of its diehard fans and analysts.