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Lakers Courting Roy Williams?

UNC is like an island fortress, but outside forces are seeping in.

Could Roy Williams really be pointing to the Lakers?
Could Roy Williams really be pointing to the Lakers?
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

So the hot rumor du jour is that the Lakers are after Roy Williams.

Normally we'd say not a chance in Blue Hell. But these are not normal times.

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Williams has, like the rest of the UNC athletic department, gone through a real ordeal, and he's gone through it, to date, relatively cleanly.

It's not over yet, apparently not by a long shot, and it's certainly possible that Williams might first like to get away from the wreckage and second to nail down a major contract before he retires.

Brad Stevens got a $22 million dollar deal from the Celtics. That kind of money would keep Ol' Roy swimming in Coke for years and years.

It's also worth considering that the Williams style, the hard core fast breaking, would be a latter day version of Show Time, although a much more modest version based on the talent at hand.

Magic Johnson's not walking through that door, folks. Neither is Kareem, James Worthy or even Michael Cooper or AC Green.

It's a long way back.

The combination of trouble at UNC and a fat payday might prove tempting. We still doubt it though.

But what if it did? What would UNC do?

George Karl and Larry Brown would get back to Chapel Hill as quickly as possible, and we could see a case for Larry Brown for 3-5 years. There's no question he could recruit and have UNC as a Top Ten program. SMU is not that far away, and it was a train wreck when Matt Doherty finished his run.

Still, he'd be a short timer, albeit a brilliant one, simply because of age. Brown is 73. There's nothing else in life for him other than coaching, but how long can he continue?

It becomes a very intriguing question rather quickly.

Of Dean's disciples, Roy aside, the best ones have been in the NBA. A lot of the college guys haven't worked out to well: Eddie Fogler is out of the profession. Matt Doherty imploded. Buzz Peterson has bounced around second-tier jobs and been fired several times. Jason Capel was just fired by Appalachian State.

But some of the younger guys are showing some stuff. King Rice is doing reasonably well at Monmouth. Scott Cherry has High Point playing competitively. And Wes Miller has been pretty good at UNCG, despite the program's limitations.

And as Yoda, said, no! There is another.

We refer, of course, to Jeff Lebo. We never understood why he took the Auburn job, and it knocked his ascent sideways.

Otherwise, though, he did a very nice job at Tennessee Tech (75-43), hardly a powerhouse, and won 21 and 19 games in two seasons at Chattanooga before the disastrous move to Auburn.

We think Lebo has been terrific at ECU, although when he took the job, it just seemed stupid: why go from one non-basketball school to one which is even more...non?

Yet Lebo has succeeded at ECU. He's gone 18-16, 15-16, 23-12 and the CIT championship.

Last season ECU finished 17-17 and gave Duke all it wanted in a visit to Cameron.

Duke was vulnerable, yes, but that's not the point: the point is ECU was close to pulling off an epic upset, and the reason why they were is because they were supremely well coached.

It could have been a disastrous choice, but ECU has been a rehab job for Lebo.

We don't think the talks between Williams and the Lakers will go very far, but if they do, and UNC wants to keep it in the family, Lebo might be the best choice.

On the other hand, though, UNC AD Bubba Cunningham has made some biting remarks about the state of the UNC athletic department and the need for fresh blood.

It might not go over well, but a self-confident AD who found his new department musty might just opt for a fresh start.

And at that point, UNC - assuming the scandal grows no worse - could go after anyone.

Brad Stevens? Shaka Smart? (please don't). Gregg Marshall? Now that would be a statement hire for Cunningham.

It still seems unlikely to us, but it is fun to consider it.