Mateo’s Hoop Diary: JJ Redick is introduced as the new Lakers coach

The Los Angeles and national brigade of reporters questioned JJ Redick on his 40th birthday for 45 minutes, and nobody asked him about his ill-informed comment about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar being a “one-note wonder” that perverts NBA history.

Redick blurted that nonsense about the NBA’s six-time MVP during the 2022-23 season, impersonating the obnoxious gimmick of his then-colleague, Stephen A. Smith. Without question, Redick failed to do any real homework. Had he made the effort, he would’ve identified how regular hooks, floaters and jumpers were a part of Abdul-Jabbar’s arsenal. Hopefully, he will spend more time identifying the team’s weaknesses in the film room.

Then 16 months later, the host of the Old Man and the Three podcast and co-host to Mind the Game with LeBron James, ascended to become the Lakers’ coach with no experience other than instructing fourth-grade hoops. Imagine if commoners could move up the ladder like that. One can only ponder what assistant coaches like Sam Cassell and Chris Quinn think when frat boy wonder cuts the line because he’s friends with the right peeps.

Rest assured, Redick confirmed he doesn’t give an F what the outside noise thinks, which still didn’t win him the press conference and made him look like a muppet.

Hopefully the Lakers had some sense and told Abdul-Jabbar that Redick was wrong about him and please come to next season’s debut.

Yet at the presser sat Redick, the sloppy seconds at centerstage, next to Rob Pelinka, who has clipped the last three coaches and somehow avoids accountability like a politician evading the public’s ire.

Redick said he didn’t take the Dan Hurley drama personally. Hurley was the Lakers’ first choice, rejecting them after getting a preposterous, below-market offer. If the Lakers were still a serious organization, UConn’s back-to-back championship coach- the guy James tweeted is “so damn good”- would probably have handled Monday’s introduction. And Redick could have still been doing ESPN’s weekly shows and game analysis when the season resumes.

Nonetheless, Pelinka said James was supportive but not involved during the hiring process.

At one point, the Purple and Mold’s new coach said the media is the engagement farming industry. Conveniently, he didn’t elaborate on how he lucratively profited from that and will go back to it once he fails.

“I take this responsibility very seriously,” Redick said. So did Luke Walton, Frank Vogel, who won a championship in 2020 and Darvin Ham. The first and last should get Pelinka more heat because that’s two misses.

Pelinka broke up the title squad’s key role players- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma- for Russell Westbrook, which many, including this scribe, thought would work. Time revealed Westbrook didn’t fit Vogel’s system, and he was misused, spending too much time in the corners after averaging a triple-double the previous season for the Washington Wizards. Then Frankie Vogel was sacked.

When Pelinka was asked what he liked about Redick and James’ podcast, he said he liked how his new coach communicates, as if James’ handlers would ever allow him to be compromised by a sincere, tense exchange on tape, even more so with someone far from his equal on the court.

Notably, what appealed to Redick about coaching was the fulfillment of helping others max out, which he credits to Rick Carlisle for helping flesh out. He also said he will use Anthony Davis as a hub and wants him shooting threes and going hard in transition. The plan is for Rui Hachimura to take more 3-pointers and become a better offensive rebounder, too. And winning a championship in the short term is a reasonable expectation. “I don’t look at the current roster as being far off from a championship-caliber team,” Redick said.

He doesn’t have his coaching staff filled yet but will have the the final decision. Pelinka will collaborate by offering ideas about every position.

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