Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
With Mike Brown out as head coach of the Lakers, we take a look at how it happened, why it happened, and where the team might go from here.
Well, that certainly escalated quickly.
Thursday, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jim Buss expressed confidence in head coach Mike Brown and preached patience. Kobe Bryant backed his head coach in comments he made after the team's afternoon practice, and said he'd been Brown's "biggest supporter".
By 10 a.m. PT, Brown had been canned.
In Brown's defense, he had very little time to work with his horses. Howard missed most of the preseason as he recovered from back surgery, and Brown lost Nash to a leg injury in the team's second game of the season. The Lakers star-studded starting five has been on the floor together in three games (preseason included). Pau Gasol is coming off his worst season in purple and gold and has been even worse this year. Bryant has battled a foot injury and been limited in practice. The bench -- as currently constructed -- is horrible. Giving Brown the boot after a winless preseason and five game sample size seems like a bit of a knee-jerk reaction.
But it had to be done.
This Lakers team was built to win immediately. Its window of opportunity to win an NBA Championship is closing, quickly. Dwight Howard -- who has been playing like he's about 75 percent healthy -- could leave for free agency after the season, Steve Nash is 38 years old, Bryant has some serious mileage on his 34-year-old legs and is only under contract for two more years. They don't have time to be force-feeding the Princeton offense to a team whose roster construction doesn't necessarily lend itself such a scheme. They don't have time to be fiddling with rotations in games that matter. They don't have time to struggle defensively (ranked 25th in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions this year) under a head coach who was brought in because he was believed to be a defensive "mastermind". And they don't have time to be a team that averages a whopping 18.6 turnovers per game (third-most in the league). This ship needs to be righted ... yesterday.
As it turns out, the "square peg in a round hole" that was Brown's dedication to the Princeton offense might have been what cost him his job, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Lakers are dumping Princeton offense, sources tell Y! Sports. "This (firing) was about the offense, more than anything else," source says.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) November 9, 2012
So who's next? You'd assume that the Lakers wouldn't have made the move without a contingency plan. Right?
Uh, maybe not.
Twitter is aflutter with rumors, but most of them make little sense.
Mike D'Antoni's name has been the most talked about, but Steve Nash's former head coach in Phoenix had knee replacement surgery two weeks ago and is unable to coach until late December, according to Wojnarowski. I doubt the Lakers would feel comfortable sticking with interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff for nearly two months.
Former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan's name has been popping up as well, but the 70-year-old coach is a notorious hard ass, and might not mesh well with the star-studded Lakers. Not to mention that it is highly unlikely that Dwight Howard's antics would fly with a curmudgeon like Sloan.
Former Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw's name has also emerged as a potential candidate. Shaw was a players' favorite to be Phil Jackson's successor, but the Lakers went with Mike Brown and handled Shaw's departure poorly. Shaw laughed when he was asked about the job opening with the Lakers, according to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star. So, uh ... that's probably not going to work.
And of course, Phil Jackson's name has come up. The Zen Master has a stellar track record, great rapport with Kobe and loads of experience dealing with star players with hefty egos, but he's probably perfectly content napping on a pile of money in a cabin in Montana and watching the Lakers scuffle from afar.
Stan Van Gundy, anyone?