Bigger names are out there, but none has the endorsement of Kobe Bryant, and why would management want to alienate its best player? It's not like Shaw is a novice either. He has interviewed for other head coaching openings. He knows how to run the triangle offense, even if Ron Artest doesn't. And Bryant said he spoke for his teammates when he went public with his Shaw support in early April.
Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak know when to listen to the face of the franchise and when not to. This is one time when it would behoove Lakers management to do so. By most accounts, Shaw is sharp and handles players well, and he has sat next to the Zen Master for years. It's his time.
Keep it in the family
A year ago, the obvious choice was Byron Scott. With Scott accepting the Cavaliers job shortly before LeBron James bolted for Miami, the next best thing is obvious.
Hire Brian Shaw. He has been on the Lakers bench for several years. He knows the organization. The players seem to gravitate toward him. Shaw would be a home-run pick for a team coming off a poor showing against the Mavericks in the postseason. Hiring someone with ties to the organization would make the transition much easier.
About the only negative would be that Shaw had his best playing years as a member of the Celtics. Lakers fans will forget about that quickly if he can sustain the type of success the franchise had under Phil Jackson the past decade.
Van Gundy smart choice
If you think one Van Gundy in the league is a trip, imagine two.
Jeff Van Gundy — the next coach of the shell-shocked Lakers?
As much as I like Brian Shaw, the Lakers don't need someone who might come across as Phil Jackson, The Sequel. Stan Van Gundy's brother is a solid candidate if you can pry him away from the ABC/ESPN microphone — a long shot, but these are the Lakers after all.
Jeff Van Gundy is smart, has worked in a big market (New York) and has coached superstars (Patrick Ewing, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming). He has been out of coaching since the Rockets fired him in 2007. But he said in 2009 he might be willing to listen if the job was right. Seldom do coaches find vacancies that include Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
Besides, it would be fun to see David Stern up to his neck in Van Gundys.
Diagnosis calls for Doc
Los Angeles Times
Only the Buss family and Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak know their wish list — but my magic-wand selection is Doc Rivers.
Upside: He has won an NBA title (few active coaches have), he has handled veteran, star-laden teams with aplomb, he's masterful with the media and he's a big name.
Downside: Myopic Lakers fans won't like a former Celtics coach on the bench, though the first coach to lead the Lakers to a title (Bill Sharman) was an ex-Celtic. Rivers' contract with Boston runs out July 1, and by then the Heat or Magic might be looking for a new coach — and he'd be on their lists too.
Then again, Rivers might take a season off to recharge and watch his son Austin play for Duke.