JJ Redick joins the Lakers with zero NBA coaching experience. How has that worked for other teams?

JJ Redick is set to be introduced as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. As you might have heard, it will be the first time he has ever worked as a coach in any capacity outside of his son's youth basketball team.

If the NBA's premier franchise hiring a coaching neophyte to lead it back into the contender ranks sounds strange to you, you are not alone. It is, at best, a bold move by Lakers leadership and, at worst, a desperate attempt to keep Redick's podcast partner, LeBron James, happy before he likely opts out of his contract and hits free agency.

Even the names the Lakers invoke as past success stories to justify this hire — Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and Steve Kerr — had significantly more experience at the time of their hires than Redick.

Riley was an assistant coach under Paul Westhead for parts of three seasons before he was given the top job in 1981. Spoelstra worked under Riley for nearly a decade with the Miami Heat, mostly as a video coordinator and assistant coach. Kerr had three years of experience as the Phoenix Suns' general manager before joining the Golden State Warriors.

Meanwhile, Redick's post-retirement career has consisted of three years as an ESPN broadcaster and podcaster.

DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 25: Former NBA player JJ Redick works for ESPN at Ball Arena on December 25, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
The Lakers are betting a lot on JJ Redick. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

Redick's hire isn't entirely unprecedented, though. NBA teams have hired former players who have never been on the other side of the clipboard, it's just a rare occurrence in the long history of the NBA.

So in the interest of evaluating just how big a leap of faith the Lakers are taking, let's take a look at all the other times an NBA team decided NBA or college coaching experience wasn't a prerequisite for the full-time job and how it worked out. We're not going to break down the coaches who had real front-office experience like Kerr, but will include them at the bottom.

Career record: 94-67, two playoff appearances in three seasons
Best playoff result: Eastern Conference semifinals

We're starting with a story the Lakers probably don't want you to think about as Redick takes the reins.

The Nets hiring the Hall of Fame point guard to coach Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving was even more controversial than Redick, to the point that Nash publicly admitted he skipped the line into the NBA coaching ranks. The hire was, above all, surprising, with Nash barely involved in basketball for years outside of some consulting work with the Golden State Warriors.

It went about as well as Nash's (and the Nets') detractors said it would. From the start, Durant and Irving didn't seem to see Nash as their head coach. Actually, it was a little more literal than that. Irving outright said before their first game he didn't see their team having a head coach, while Durant described coaching the team as "a collaborative effort," as in he and Irving could both serve as coaches.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 12: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets and head coach Steve Nash talk during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on November 12, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
The Nets picked Steve Nash to manage one of the most mercurial rosters in the NBA. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Nash managed to last two seasons, with disappointing playoff results in both, and got canned while the team was bathed in controversy due to Irving.

Success? Absolutely not

Career record: 40-96, zero playoff appearances in two seasons
Best playoff result: None

The veteran point guard (a lot of these guys were point guards) went straight from the Oklahoma City Thunder's rotation to the head of the Knicks' bench. The reason why: Phil Jackson.

Fisher and Jackson won five rings together with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Jackson, newly installed as the president of the New York Knicks, wanted a coach who intimately understood his triangle offense. They managed to persuade Carmelo Anthony to re-sign and swung trades that acquired, among others, Shane Larkin and Quincy Acy.

The results were disastrous. Fisher lasted a season and a half and was fired after dropping nine of his last 10 games. He later found work with the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, but never found another coaching job in the NBA.

Success? Nope

Career record: 323-296, five playoff appearances in eight seasons
Best playoff result: Lost NBA Finals

Kidd is one of the best point guards ever, but his coaching career has been an extraordinarily mixed bag.

Like Fisher, Kidd went straight from playing to taking over the Nets. And like Redick, Kidd took over a Brooklyn team attempting to compete with some aging former champions in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Year 1 was somewhat turbulent and ended in an unsurprising loss to James' Heat.

There would be no Year 2 with the Nets, as Kidd basically attempted a coup against general manager Billy King, lost and ended up with the Milwaukee Bucks. Kidd spent the next four years posting roughly .500 records with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, who won the Finals three years after firing him.

Then came an assistant job with the Lakers and, now, the Dallas Mavericks job, where Kidd reached the NBA Finals with Luka Dončić and Irving.

Success? Not with the Nets. Or the Bucks. The Mavericks ... so far, so good.

Career record: 121-109, two playoff appearances in three seasons
Best playoff result: Western Conference semifinals

Speaking of point guard head coaches whose teams won a championship not long after firing them ... Mark Jackson, come on down.

Jackson joined the Warriors after a few years of broadcasting with ESPN and led the team to the first playoffs of Stephen Curry's career. The Warriors won 51 games in 2013-14, but there were plenty of issues behind the scenes. Jackson struggled to manage his coaching staff and stories later emerged of some pretty clear homophobia on his part.

Oh, and there was that time Jackson allegedly took an injured Curry to his church, where the future MVP was pressured into attempting to walk on a sprained ankle. After three years with the Warriors, Jackson was fired and went back to ESPN, where he was laid off last year.

Success? No, but some will argue he laid the groundwork for the Warriors dynasty.

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 29: Head coach Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors gestures from the bench in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on December 29, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
The Warriors won a title immediately after replacing Mark Jackson with Steve Kerr. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Career record: 1,114-782, 20 playoff appearances in 25 seasons

Like Redick, Rivers spent three years as a broadcaster before jumping into coaching, and he is probably the most encouraging example the Lakers could realistically point to.

Rivers won NBA Coach of the Year in his rookie season after leading the Magic to a 41-41 record, well above expectations after the team traded away the remnants of a core that reached the Finals. He got them back into the playoffs the next season, thanks to the additions of Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill. They allegedly also had a shot at Tim Duncan, whom Rivers insists didn't opt to stay with the San Antonio Spurs due to Rivers' strict rules about family members on team planes.

Duncan's free agency remains one of the biggest what-ifs in NBA history and loomed over the rest of Rivers' five-season tenure in Orlando. Rivers has since become a fixture in NBA head coaching ranks for two-and-a-half decades, winning the 2008 championship with the Boston Celtics and also coaching the Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks.

Success? Depends on whether the Tim Duncan story is real. But in all seriousness, yes, the Magic clearly found an NBA-caliber head coach.

Career record: 5-11, zero playoff appearances in one season
Best playoff result: None

We'll keep this one short, like Johnson's coaching career. In between retirements, Johnson was pushed by Lakers owner Jerry Buss to give coaching a try during the Lakers' worst season in nearly two decades. It didn't go well and Johnson quit at the end of the season after coaching 16 games.

He's cautiously optimistic about Redick, though.

Success? No, but little was lost.

Record: 13-69, zero playoff appearances in one season
Best playoff result: None

A national champion in college with Indiana and an NBA champion with the Boston Celtics, Buckner spent several post-retirement years as a broadcaster before the Mavericks decided to see if his past success would rub off on them.

It didn't.

Instead, what they got was a guy doing his best Bobby Knight impression, but without the other stuff that made the Indiana legend a success. The words "reign of terror" were used to describe Buckner's coaching style as he led the team to a 1-23 start, and he was ultimately fired after Mavericks owner Don Carter admitted "too many bridges were burnt." This was after one season.

Success? The worst hire on this list, which is saying something.

Record: 180-208, one playoff appearance in six seasons
Best playoff result: Western Conference semifinals

Like others, Issel took the route of player-to-broadcaster-to-head coach. He took over a team that Paul Westhead ran into the ground and extracted a playoff berth after two seasons. There, the Nuggets became the first No. 8 seed in NBA history to eliminate a No. 1 seed, when they stunned the Seattle SuperSonics in 1994.

Internal clashing led to Issel's resignation at midseason the next year, but he returned in 1990 as both head coach and general manager. That tenure went badly and ended worse, as Issel was caught on live TV yelling, "Go drink another beer, you Mexican piece of s***!" at a fan. He was suspended and eventually resigned amid calls for his firing.

Success? Not really, he led his team to one good series, and little else.

14 Nov 2000:  Head Coach Dan Issel  of the Denver Nuggets reacts during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers defeated the Nuggets 119-103.  NOTE TO USER: It is expressly understood that the only rights Allsport are offering to license in this Photograph are one-time, non-exclusive editorial rights. No advertising or commercial uses of any kind may be made of Allsport photos. User acknowledges that it is aware that Allsport is an editorial sports agency and that NO RELEASES OF ANY TYPE ARE OBTAINED from the subjects contained in the photographs.Mandatory Credit: Donald Miralle  /Allsport
Dan Issel's tenure as an NBA head coach had an ugly end. (Donald Miralle /Allsport)

Record: 387-488, four playoff appearances in 12 seasons
Best playoff result: Eastern Conference semifinals

Silas' first tenure as head coach didn't work out, but he ended up having a pretty respectable career. He wasted little time going from playing for the SuperSonics to coaching the San Diego Clippers.

Bill Walton was theoretically the team's star, but he didn't play a game in Silas' first two seasons with the Clippers. Silas was ultimately fired after a miserable three years and returned to the head coaching ranks 12 years later, when he coached the Charlotte Hornets to the playoffs.

After his surprise firing, he was hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he was the first NBA coach of a teenager named LeBron James.

Success? Definitely not for the Clippers.

Record: 341-290, five playoff appearances in eight seasons
Best playoff result: Won two NBA Finals

Russell became player-coach after the retirement of the legendary Red Auerbach and, in the process, the first Black head coach in major American sports history.

With Russell playing and the rest of the Celtics machine, he also became the first Black head coach to win a championship, though the team did break its streak of eight straight championships in his first season at the helm.

After retiring as a player with his 11th ring in 1969, Russell gave coaching another shot with the SuperSonics and Sacramento Kings, but never came close to his success in Boston.

Success? It's Bill Russell.

  • Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors, 2014 (previously Phoenix Suns general manager)
    Record: 519-274
    Best playoff result: Won four NBA Finals

  • Vinny Del Negro, Chicago Bulls, 2008 (previously Phoenix Suns assistant general manager)
    Record: 210-184
    Best playoff result: Western Conference semifinals

  • Kevin McHale, Minnesota Timberwolves, 2005 (previously Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations)
    Record: 232-185
    Best playoff result: Western Conference semifinals

  • Isiah Thomas, Indiana Pacers, 2000 (previously Toronto Raptors executive vice president)
    Record: 187-223
    Best playoff result: First round

  • Larry Bird, Indiana Pacers, 1997 (previously special assistant to front office for Boston Celtics)
    Record: 147-67
    Best playoff result: Made 2000 NBA Finals

  • M.L. Carr, Boston Celtics, 1995 (previously Celtics general manager)
    Record: 48-116
    Best playoff result: None