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On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Clippers announced a five-year contract extension with head coach Ty Lue. The move wasn't especially surprising, as it had reportedly been in the works for weeks, but it guaranteed that perhaps the one truly proven commodity that the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in to replace Darvin Ham is officially and unequivocally off of the market. Of course, that never meant that Lue was likely. No reports suggested he was ever seriously available, while virtually every report has hinted at the same thing: ESPN broadcaster JJ Redick is very likely to be the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bleacher Report's Chris Haynes was about as firm on that as he could've been on Wednesday's edition of The Dan Patrick Show. "I will be very surprised if their next head coach is anybody but JJ Redick," Haynes said. "Everything that I'm hearing is JJ Redick. From what I know he's doing some background, calling some assistant coaching candidates who might be able to join his staff."

Marc Stein has also reported on Redick seeking out possible assistants for the Laker job already. He named Celtics assistant Sam Cassell, Pelicans assistant James Borrego and Mavericks assistant Jared Dudley as candidates to watch for Redick's possible staff. Cassell and Borrego are both candidates for the head coaching job, and Dan Woike of the LA Times reported that Borrego would interview in person on Wednesday, but the Lakers have a history of interviewing head coaching candidates and eventually hiring them as assistants. This was how they landed Jason Kidd in 2019, for instance. Dudley, a former Lakers player and beloved locker room figure, followed Kidd to Dallas in 2021. Once reporting starts to leak about a candidate already trying to fill out his staff, it begins to feel fairly likely that he will eventually get the job.

The main question at this point relates to timing. The Lakers have taken their time during this search, and that would also seem to hint toward Redick as the choice. ESPN's Dave McMenamin said on the Rich Eisen Show Tuesday that if Redick is indeed the hire, it would be unlikely to be announced until after the NBA Finals, as Redick is set to broadcast the series for ABC. Another ESPNer, Brian Windhorst, hinted at that same timeline on The Dan Patrick Show.

Redick's appeal to the Lakers has been thoroughly documented. The Athletic's Jovan Buha noted on YouTube that the Lakers "want a coach that can be their version of an Erik Spoelstra, their version of a Steve Kerr," meaning a younger coach that can lead them for years to come and become a fixture within the organization. Former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has been tabbed as a consultant on this search, and Redick was one of the most accomplished players he ever worked with in Durham. Redick also hosts a podcast with Lakers star LeBron James called Mind the Game, though James' agent, Rich Paul, has made it clear that James has not involved himself in this hire.

Redick's media work and 15-year playing career have made him a hot coaching candidate for at least the past two offseason. He has interviewed for head-coaching jobs with both the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets, and Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla has said publicly that he tried to hire Redick as an assistant. However, he has no coaching experience on the professional or collegiate level.

That might have worked against him if the Lakers had an option like Lue, who had already won a championship as a head coach. But Lue is not available and likely never was. Without an obvious choice like that, the Lakers have instead taken a longer view. They appear willing to let a younger head coach grow into the position rather than making a choice strictly to try to compete in the short term. While the search has not officially concluded, it's getting harder and harder to deny at this point that Redick will eventually be the pick. Virtually all of the reporting thus far has favored him, and while he's busy calling games for ESPN at the moment, his broadcasting responsibilities for the year will soon conclude, freeing him up to potentially take one of the most sought-after coaching positions in all of sports.