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The Los Angeles Lakers have their head coaching search narrowed down to just three prospects, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Or, at least that’s what the Lakers want everybody to think.

As it was becoming clear that the Lakers were likely to part ways with Frank Vogel at the end of the 2021-2022 season, rumors began to swirl about the Lakers’ interest in Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers.

Although Rivers made it clear that he was happy in Philly, and the Sixers gave no indication that anything less than a championship would change their minds about him, the Lakers were reportedly hoping that he would become available. Therefore, their search for a new head coach has been a slow process.

The 76ers failed to get past the second round for the second-straight season under the management of Rivers. Rivers was confident that he wasn't going anywhere after Philly’s Game 6 loss against the Miami Heat, which ended their season.

Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey doubled down on that idea as he made it clear that Rivers would coach the 76ers next season. Fast forward a couple of weeks later, and it seems Morey wasn’t bluffing.

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But the Lakers still haven’t given up hope, according to NBA Insider Marc Stein.

“Suspicions persist in league coaching circles that the Lakers have not completely abandoned hope that Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers becomes unexpectedly available — despite the recent insistence from Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey that Rivers will be back in Philly next season.”

The Lakers have three prospects lined up in Kenny Atkinson, Darvin Ham, and Terry Stotts. While one of those three prospects will likely become the next head coach of the LA Lakers, Doc Rivers remains in the rumor mill as it seems league personnel believes that Rivers or the Sixers could have a change of heart as the offseason persists.

For now, though, the Sixers remain adamant about having Rivers back for a third season as he earned the trust of the franchise leaders after navigating the team through the Ben Simmons saga this past season.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.

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