3 Reasons J.J. Redick’s Coaching Ceiling Is Steve Kerr Not Steve Nash

6 min readMay 19, 2024

Unless another candidate wows them, the Los Angeles Lakers are hurtling towards hiring J.J. Redick to be the franchise’s next head coach despite his never having coached a basketball team other than his son’s AAU team.

While hiring a head coach who’s never even been an assistant seems like a risky move, it’s not unprecedented and has happened before, in 2014 when the Warriors hired Steve Kerr and in 2020 when the Nets hired Steve Nash.
Part of the Lakers’ infatuation with J.J. Redick is the hope he could become their version of Steve Kerr, a smart, savvy, former clutch player and rising media star who could grow into the team’s next Pat Riley or Phil Jackson.

Of course, the downside of hiring a head coach with zero experience is what happened to the Brooklyn Nets who hired Steve Nash to be their head coach in 2020 despite his never having even been an assistant coach.
Nash was fired by the Nets after three years because he lost the confidence of superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Being one of the greatest point guards ever didn’t translate into Steve Nash being a successful head coach.

Like Magic Johnson and many former superstar players, Steve Nash found coaching in the NBA after a long career as a superstar more challenging for him than for former role players like Steve Kerr and hopefully J.J. Redick.
Kerr was 49 when he got his first head coaching job with the Warriors and Nash was 46 when first hired by the Nets. Redick is 39-years old right now, having retired as a player in 2021 to be a successful analyst and podcaster.

Should Lakers’ hire J.J. Redick as head coach, there are three reasons why his ceiling as a former player with zero coaching experience is Steve Kerr, who won 5 championships, and not Steve Nash, who bombed in Brooklyn.

Superstar Management

The first reason J.J. Redick’s coaching ceiling should be Steve Kerr and not Steve Nash is his proven ability to earn respect and build strong personal relationships with superstar players like LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Redick has already shown through his media work on ‘The Old Man and the Three’ podcasts with Tommy Alter and his recent highly acclaimed ‘Mind the Game’ podcasts with LeBron James that he’s a rising media star.
These podcasts have showcased the 39-year old Redick as one of best young basketball minds in the game and catapulted him as the early favorite to be the Lakers’ next great head coach in the mold of Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.

The biggest challenge for rookie coaches is being able to command respect of the players, especially the superstars. It’s obviously easier if the new coach was a former player or had head or assistant coaching experience.
It’s also easier if the superstar you’re going to have to coach happens to be your podcast partner. All J.J. has to do now is win Anthony Davis over to make up for recently leaving him off his list of the 20 best defenders.

Finally, earning respect and developing relationships with superstars is easier for coaches who were role players rather than superstars. Steve Kerr and Steve Nash are good examples of great and poor superstar managers.
Redick was an elite role player like Kerr, whose superstar management led to five championships. Nash was a legitimate superstar who was fired because he lost the trust of superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

J.J. Redick’s podcast partnership with LeBron James is solid evidence that his coaching ceiling, when it comes to dealing with superstar players. will likely be more like the Warriors’ Steve Kerr than the Nets’ Steve Nash.

Offensive Philosophy

The second reason J.J. Redick’s coaching ceiling is more Steve Kerr than Steve Nash is his commitment to new school offense embracing the 3-point shot and more ball and player movement vs old school isolation basketball.

Like the Warriors’ Steve Kerr, J.J. Redick is a ardent proponent of more organized ball and player movement on offense versus the ball dominant isolation basketball philosophies that ultimately cost Steve Nash his job.
Credit to the Lakers’ ownership and front office for bringing in Coach K to help determine exactly what they need in their next head coach and chart the best possible course to land their next Pat Riley or Phil Jackson.

Strategically, the Lakers face major decisions on the kind of team they want to build just as the league is undergoing a generational changing of the guard with younger teams and players replacing older teams and players.
The Lakers need to decide whether their top priority right now is finding a third superstar to help James and Davis win another championship and replace LeBron when he retires or fill multiple major holes in their roster.

Philosophically, Redick is exactly the kind outside-of-the-box thinker the Lakers need at this critical juncture with their future on the line. The Lakers need to get bigger in the front court and shoot a lot more threes.
The NBA is getting bigger, longer, and more athletic. The Lakers need a visionary head coach who can modernize their offense. The time may have come to abandon drop coverage and build a switch everything roster.

J.J. Redick has the high basketball IQ and modern offensive philosophy more aligned with that of the Warriors’ Steve Kerr than the heavy ball dominant isolation strategies on offense favored by the Nets’ Steve Nash.

Communication Skills

The third reason J.J. Redick’s coaching ceiling is Steve Kerr not Steve Nash is the formidable communication skills that turned him into a rising media star and will enable him to smartly manage the media and locker room.

One of Redick’s strengths as a head coach will be his his personal ability to communicate with and develop critical relationships with the press corps and players that will determine his success as the Lakers’ next head coach.
Elite communication skills are one of the most important requirements to be a successful NBA head coach. Being able to properly answer questions from the media and players is a critical requirement of every head coach.

Media communication is one the areas of strength of Steve Kerr and one of the weaknesses of Steve Nash and Lakers’ former head coach Darvin Ham, both of whom struggled to answer questions from the media and players.
Being able to handle yourself in press conferences and in conversations with players is critical to developing trust and respect. Like Pat Riley, J.J.’s experience as a podcaster and ESPN analyst should be a big advantage.

Communication skills are essential to the success of NBA head coaches and setting and maintaining reasonable expectations for the team and the press corps builds trust and respect that are core foundations for relationships.
Like Steve Kerr, J.J. Redick clearly understands the intrinsic value of communication in building relationships, which is something that both Steve Nash and Darvin Ham never understood as a critical keys to success.

J.J. Redick has the elite communication skills to become the Lakers’ next great head coach ala Pat Riley and Phil Jackson. Communication skills are why his coaching ceiling is more like Steve Kerr than Steve Nash.

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Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of Lakerholics.com, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.