The Los Angeles Lakers have appointed former NBA player and ESPN analyst JJ Redick as their new head coach on a four-year contract, sources informed ESPN on Thursday. Redick, who played 15 years in the NBA, emerged as a prime candidate after an extensive search, and his ability to connect with players and his basketball intelligence were crucial factors in his selection.

The decision was made after Lakers Vice President and General Manager Rob Pelinka, along with team owner Jeanie Buss, met with Redick over the weekend. Conversations continued throughout the week, culminating in Pelinka offering Redick the job on Thursday morning, sources revealed.

Pelinka's belief in Redick's potential to transition smoothly into coaching, supported by an elite coaching staff, played a significant role in the decision. "Pelinka became sold on Redick's ability to connect with players and his basketball IQ," a source said, "and believes surrounding Redick with an elite coaching staff will help shorten his learning curve into his first coaching job."

Redick's appointment follows the Lakers' failed attempt to hire UConn coach Dan Hurley, who turned down a six-year, $70 million offer. Despite this setback, Pelinka remained focused on securing a coach who prioritizes the development of young players such as Max Christie, Austin Reaves, and Rui Hachimura, while also designing a creative approach to maximizing Anthony Davis's performance on both ends of the floor.

Redick, who has maintained a strong relationship with Lakers star LeBron James through their co-hosted basketball podcast, was a wildcard in the Lakers' coaching search. His prominence in the media as an NBA analyst, known for his nuanced insights, helped solidify his candidacy.

"This is a big gamble by Los Angeles," said ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. "As much as Redick may know about the game, he has yet to work in any coaching role in the NBA and he's now about to assume one of the league's most demanding jobs."

The Lakers' decision to hire Redick comes on the heels of a disappointing season that saw the team exit in the first round of the playoffs. The Athletic's Shams Charania, Sam Amick, and Jovan Buha reported that there were frustrations with former coach Darvin Ham's rotations and public relations approach. While not all the team's failings were attributed to coaching, a change was deemed necessary.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both of whom had strong individual seasons, were unable to carry the Lakers past the first round against the reigning champion Denver Nuggets. James averaged 25.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 8.3 assists, shooting a career-high 41.0 percent on three-pointers. Davis contributed 24.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. Despite these efforts, the Lakers secured only the seventh seed in the Western Conference.

"To win an 18th NBA title, the Lakers need their two best players to stay healthy and play like All-Stars," noted a source. "That's exactly what L.A. got, and all it resulted in was the seventh seed and a first-round series loss."

Pelinka faces a challenging offseason, needing to balance the roster around the aging James and the injury-prone Davis. Potential blockbuster trades for stars like Donovan Mitchell or Trae Young have been discussed, but such moves would likely deplete the Lakers' remaining draft assets and possibly involve giving up key players like Reaves.

The Lakers' strategy could also involve strengthening the team's depth rather than focusing solely on star power. This approach helped them reach the Western Conference Finals this past season, but the team still fell short against the Nuggets.

Redick's hiring marks the beginning of a crucial period for the Lakers. While bringing in a new coach is significant, Pelinka's decisions regarding the team's roster will ultimately determine their success. The Lakers' gamble on Redick represents a bold move, hoping that his fresh perspective and player rapport can lead the team back to championship contention.