The argument for Rick Adelman to be the next coach of the Lakers is a pretty simple case. In fact it can be summarized with the use of one underlying word that both he and the Lakers franchise are all about: winning.
Of the top four prospective choices on the table Adelman has the most career regular season wins (945), highest winning percentage (.605) and most playoff wins (79). His track record, including two finals appearances with the Blazers and a near miss with the 2002 Kings, is as solid as they come.
Adelman’s success speaks to a myriad of qualities that would make him a great choice for the Lakers. For starters he is a player’s coach that meshes extremely well with veterans. Over the years Adelman has shown the ability to handle an array of differing personalities and form winning combinations from Chris Webber (the locker room cancer) to Ron Artest (the crazy) to Yao and Peja (the international stars). In fact there is a nary a player in the league who has not liked playing for him.
In terms of X’s and O’s Adelman is considered one of the best. The corner offense that he utilizes is very similar in principle to the triangle that Lakers fans have grown accustomed to seeing. It is a read and react system that gives players latitude in terms of adjusting to pressure, making decisions on the fly and dissecting defenses using on the spot judgment rather than just relying on a set play. In short, it is a system that trusts players to make the right call. And that trust in players is something that both Adelman and Phil Jackson share when it comes to their coaching philosophies.
Because of his experience, his track record and his style Adelman would be the most likely out of the top candidates to be able to hit the ground running. His style and system are not that unlike Jackson, whereas Dunleavy and Van Gundy tend to be harsher, more micro-managerial coaches who could potentially grate on veterans who are used to doing things a certain way. And while Brian Shaw seems well liked by the players and would likely keep the triangle in tact, are the Lakers really willing to gamble on an unproven entity, to hand the keys to the franchise over to a rookie head coach?
Given the current construction of the Lakers roster they are team that needs to find itself as quickly as possible. And unless they make significant changes via trade the Lakers are not getting any younger. The championship window is not shut but it is closing rapidly. The hiring of Rick Adelman represents the best chance to seize the opportunity while it still remains. In the end, it all comes down to winning.
Yesterday we made the case for Jeff Van Gundy. Today we focused on Rick Adelman. In the coming days we will continue to play devil’s advocate, exploring the merits of both Mike Dunleavy and Brian Shaw as the next Lakers head coach.
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