Lakers coaching search picks up steam, James Borrego interviews today

El coach James Borrego, de los Hornets de Charlotte, da instrucciones a sus jugadores durante un partido del play-in de la NBA ante los Hawks de Atlanta, el miércoles 13 de abril de 2022, en Atlanta. (AP Foto/John Bazemore)

New Orleans assistant coach James Borrego is scheduled for in-person meetings Wednesday at the Lakers' practice facility related to the team's head coaching vacancy, according to multiple people familiar with the plans but unauthorized to speak publicly.

He worked with the Pelicans last season following a four-year stint with the Hornets, where he went 138-163. In his final season with the Hornets, Borrego led Charlotte to a 43-39 record.

Borrego was an assistant in San Antonio and Orlando and spent two seasons at the start of his career in New Orleans, just prior to Anthony Davis’ arrival.

Davis, according to those briefed, thinks highly of Borrego.

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The Lakers have been very tight-lipped about the search process to date, with outside “noise” — a word used inside the team’s building — linking them to former NBA player and current broadcaster JJ Redick.

While general manager Rob Pelinka has met more privately with candidates, Wednesday talks expanded within the organization — a significant step in the team's search.

Rumors of the Lakers’ staffing plans have run throughout the league during the past two weeks, with some names most commonly mentioned including former head coach Scott Brooks and assistants Sam Cassell and Jared Dudley. Cassell spoke to Pelinka about the Lakers’ head coaching position during a video call prior to this week, according to a person with knowledge of the conversation. Ex-Lakers guard Rajon Rondo has also been under consideration.

Both Cassell and Dudley, though, are employed by teams still in the playoffs — Boston and Dallas, respectively — and could be in line for promotions within their current organizations.

Former Lakers assistant coach Greg St. Jean, who worked in Dallas for Jason Kidd two seasons ago and with Frank Vogel in Phoenix last season, is another name commonly mentioned in staffing discussions.

Staffing, of course, will be largely contingent on who the team ultimately decides to hire.

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Should the Lakers land on Redick, an outcome some have expected since shortly after the Lakers fired Darvin Ham, Borrego would also be coveted as an assistant.

Borrego’s known for his work on the offensive side of the ball, where he played a large role last season in New Orleans. He has a strong reputation for being smart and organized while not being closed off to opinions from the players he works with.

The search has been led by Pelinka for much of the past month, with the Lakers’ general manager conducting private interviews in the build to this week’s in-person stage, which, according to people with knowledge of the situation, included executives from a variety of departments.

For Pelinka, it’s a crucial hire — his third since Magic Johnson’s resignation late in the 2018-19 season. And while the team has won a championship under Vogel and played in a conference finals under Ham, the Lakers are again spending the early days of their offseason in a coaching search.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.