Jerry Sloan will be turning 72 later this month, but he may still have a few years left of coaching to help the Los Angeles Lakers transition to a new period. Sloan has a great resume, ranking third on the all-time wins list in the NBA when he retired as well as reaching the NBA Finals twice. While he has been criticized for never being able to win it all, he is an elite coach who is well respected by his peers. He commands respect in the locker room and has enough of a track record to deal with stars such as Kobe Bryant.
These last two years may be it for Bryant, and the team will be pressed to sign impact players at the right price in order to be considered playoff contenders. There will likely be many lower-salary players on next year’s roster, and the team will need a coach who can get the most out of them. Enter Sloan, whose teams often play with a gritty edge and extreme discipline. He has the ability to challenge players to play hard and as a team. This unity is one reason why Sloan has been so successful in previous years.
While his teams play well defensively, he also runs efficient offensive sets. He is not afraid to let his playmakers run a sharp, pick and roll based offense which would benefit Bryant greatly. Bryant played well offensively last year in D’Antoni’s system and has become a better creator out of this set. At the same time, Sloan is not afraid to vary his offense in order to play to the players’ strengths. This is important as no one really knows who will be on the Lakers’ roster next season.
Sloan’s ability to get his teams to play disciplined, gritty basketball makes him an excellent choice for the Lakers the next couple of years. His coaching tree spans to several current head coaches in the league, showing his potential to mentor the next long-term head coach. His previous success should relate well to Bryant, who will do almost anything to win. He is one of the best coaches in recent history, and it is only right to give him another shot at winning a title.