Rick Adelman on Lakers' radar?

Updated: May 13, 2011, 12:24 PM ET
By Marc Stein and Dave McMenamin | ESPN.com

The Los Angeles Lakers' search for Phil Jackson's replacement is just beginning, but NBA coaching sources on Thursday described the Lakers as "very interested" in Rick Adelman as a candidate for the position.

Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw has the public endorsement of Kobe Bryant and is regarded as by far the strongest in-house candidate for the position.

Yet sources say Lakers officials are intrigued by the Adelman option, not only because of his history of success in Portland, Sacramento and Houston but also his reputation for thriving with veteran teams and the similarities between Adelman's "corner" offense and Jackson's "triangle" offense.

Beyond Shaw and Adelman, sources said, L.A.'s list of potential targets is only just taking shape.

ESPN.com reported in March that the Lakers have maintained a level of interest in former Rockets and New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy dating to last season, when Jackson also strongly considered retirement before deciding to come back for one more season.

Former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy will also be considered, the Los Angeles Times' Mark Heisler reported earlier this week via Twitter. Dunleavy coached the Lakers for two seasons in the early 1990s and has maintained a friendship with Lakers owner Jerry Buss and son Jim Buss, who serves as the club's executive vice president of player personnel.

L.A.'s decision-making chain of command when it comes to choosing Jackson's replacement is Jim Buss, Jerry Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak, ESPN.com's J.A. Adande reported after the Lakers were swept Sunday by Dallas.

"In that order," one source told Adande.

In his postseason sitdown with reporters Wednesday, Kupchak said: "We'd like to be deliberate. In Los Angeles, typically we hire coaches and they stick with us for a long time and hopefully win championships. So we'll take our time in making that decision."

It's also unclear how strongly the organization wants to maintain the link to Jackson with its next hire. One source close to the team said it surprised people within the organization last month when the majority of the team's training staff were informed that their contracts would not renewed for next year.

Ostensibly that move was made to control costs during a possible work stoppage, but the timing of it -- while the Lakers struggled in their first-round series against New Orleans -- and the lack of a warning that those moves would be made, fueled speculation that the organization was leaning toward more drastic changes, even before the Lakers were swept from the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks.

Lakers co-captain Derek Fisher and veteran forward Luke Walton have joined Bryant in registering support for Shaw, but it remains to be seen if the Busses are prepared to replace the most successful coach in history with a first-time NBA head coach.

Adelman, 64, has never won a championship and is best remembered in Lakerland as coach of the Sacramento team that took a 3-2 series lead over L.A. in the heated and controversial 2002 Western Conference finals before the Kings lost in seven games. But his reputation as a player's coach with a pleasing-to-the-eye offense would appear to make him a better fit than other top veteran coaches available -- such as Van Gundy, Jerry Sloan or Larry Brown -- because of the Buss family's well-known fondness for entertaining basketball.

In four seasons with the injury-plagued Rockets, Adelman posted a record of 193-135 for a .588 winning percentage and helped Houston extend the Lakers to seven games in the second round of the 2009 playoffs despite the absence of Yao Ming for most of the series. Adelman's career record is 945-616, which puts him eighth in all-time victories and includes two trips to the NBA Finals with Portland, as well as one unsuccessful stint with Golden State between his jobs with the Blazers and Kings.

Senior writer Marc Stein covers the NBA for ESPN.com. Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne was used in this report.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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