INSIDE THE NUGGETS

Los Angeles Lakers could poach Michael Malone’s right-hand man

May 15, 2024, 12:58 PM

Michael Malone’s coaching tree looks set to spread this summer as his current top assistant coach and a former assistant walking the sidelines against him right now are both in the running for the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching job.

According to ESPN, both David Adelman and Micah Nori have gotten the okay from the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves respectively to interview for the gig in the SoCal.

Adelman, who is in his seventh season working under Malone on the Nuggets staff, is the son of Hall of Famer Rick Adelman, who led the Portland Trail Blazers from 1989-1994 and then was the head coach of Golden State, Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota. The younger Adelman got his first NBA gig working for his father and the Timberwolves.

Adelman, 42, has filled in several times for Malone in the past few years. He’s the go-to guy if the head man gets run by a referee, as did happen earlier in the 2023-24 season in Chicago. Adelman also had an extended stint as the acting head coach during the 2022-23 championship season, when Malone was sidelined with an illness.

Players have raved about the former Trail Blazers ball boy who would listen to his father’s halftime speeches growing up in Oregon.

“I really think he’s the guy who’s going to be the next head coach because he has that head for a head coach,” Nikola Jokic said after Adelman picked up his first win in January of 2023. “He is thinking in front, he knows answers, and he reads and reacts.”

“Us players, we wanted to show him love,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said back then.

When not actually leading the Nuggets in totality, Adelman is focused on the Nikola Jokic-led offense, which has been one of the best while the coach has been on Malone’s bench. This led Adelman to get interest from the Toronto Raptors last summer, and who ended up hiring former Serbian national team assistant Darko Rajakovic and Hornets a few weeks ago, they opted for Boston assistant Charles Lee.

Lee is staying with Boston through their playoff run, as too would Adelman and Nori, who are squaring off right now in the Nuggets series against the Wolves. Nori is Chris Finch’s top assistant and the two worked together under Malone in Denver. Nori has literally stepped up for Minny since Finch is unable to walk the sidelines in this second-round series.

If Adelman or Nori get the job coaching the Lakers, they’ll join Finch and Wes Unseld Jr. as former Malone assistants who have gone on to be leading men elsewhere.

Of course, the Lakers job is only open because of what Malone and the Nuggets have done to Los Angeles the last two years. Darvin Ham only oversaw one postseason win against Denver in his time leading LeBron James and crew. That wasn’t good enough for the superstar and Hollywood team, as he got the boot a few weeks ago. There are some very interesting names in the running for the job including former player and current podcast co-host to James JJ Redick.

The Nuggets will lose Adelman at some point and it will be a blow, but your assistants tend to get raided when you have sustained success over such a long period as Malone has. Most Denver fans will just hope when the bright mind of Adelman finally gets a day in the sun it doesn’t happen for the rival Lakers.

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