Featured Articles

Sloppy Seconds: Mike Brown to the Lakers

Really Lakers? I mean – REALLY?

A few days ago, I saw the ESPN headline for the first time: “Brown among Laker head coaching candidates”. I thought to myself: that’s not a bad choice, he may not last for more than a couple of years, but he’s probably the best available coach out there and might be able to squeeze 1 or 2 more rings out of this team. I mean, look what he was able to pull off with Allen Iverson and Dikembe Mutombo back in 2001.

Yeah, Larry Brown would make a fine coach.

Then I clicked on the link. And it wasn’t Larry. It was Mike.

Mike Brown? The same Mike Brown who Lebron apparently ran out of Cleveland? The same Mike Brown that mastered the 1 play offensive playbook? The same Mike Brown that basically saw his team quit on him during the 2010 playoffs vs. the Celtics? Say it ain’t so, Jimmy Buss.

Ok, this was cute – now give the damn decision making back to Mitch. And didn’t some of this stink of “let’s get a coach we can push around a little bit and get to sign to a lowball offer”.

I think Kobe’s “no comment” says it all. How do you think Jim Buss spun this to the (other) Mamba: “so Kobe, we decided to hire the coach Lebron chased out of town, because, well…you deserve the best!”. Lebron did Kobe one better, choosing to replace stone silence with an initial one syllable sound of shock “Wow” after he heard the news.  Sorry if I sound like I’m in a state of disbelief, because like Lebron, I actually am.  

Listen, there weren’t a huge lineup of great candidates out there. Shaw lacked presence and gravitas. Adelman, while respectable, was a retread. Other interesting candidates were locked into existing contracts? But the Lakers are the glamour franchise of the NBA. This was the best they could do? What about Van Gundy? B-Scott? Or any other coach with the last name Brown?

Optimists will say that Mike Brown is a defensive minded coach whose Cavs teams were among the best in the league. No doubt, the Cavs defense with Lebron was good, but I for one cannot recall them being great. During the 4 full seasons that Mike Brown was coach (2006-2010), the Cavs finished 5th, 13th, 3rd, and 7th in overall defensive efficiency. The Lakers meanwhile finished 24th, 9th, 5th, and 5th.

Another line of thinking goes: Mike Brown can succeed by keeping the entire offense (with assistants) in place which would leave him to focus on just defense. This line of thought is obviously associated to NFL fan who must have confused Mike Brown for Buddy Ryan. Even if that was Brown’s plan (which is very difficult to believe), it is unlikely Jackson’s triangle disciples will stick around long enough to find out.

And then there is the elephant, er, mamba in the room. Any new head coach is going to have to manage Kobe. If Mike Brown thought managing Lebron was tough, Kobe will make coaching the King look like a walk in the park. This is a guy who took heat from Lebron for everything from his substitution patterns in last year’s Chicago series to not playing Big Z  (seriously?) How do you think he’s going to handle it the 1st time Kobe refuses to come out of a close game? Or when Kobe criticizes the game plan? We have all heard Mike Brown speak – and I’m not sure the guy can sell ice to eskimos, much less get Kobe to buy into an offensive system that relies predominantly on “pick and pops”.  Well, at least the two have gone so far as to “exchange texts”, because nothing says welcome aboard like “c u soon! xoxo kb24”.

So what does this mean for the Lake Show next season? In short, don’t expect much to change during the regular season. This team will most likely loaf, stumble, and streak its way to another 55-58 win season – expect some slight improvement on defense (mostly derived from reminders of the humiliation of this year), along with many clueless moments on offense. The real test is when playoff time comes around once again. Will Mike Brown be able to guide this team and help it retain the poise needed to make another championship run? In my mind, if the last few years of Cavs playoff basketball has been any indicator of future performance, that seems doubtful. Still, we can hope. We still have the best player on the planet (cough), and the most skilled big man (double cough). Don’t forget our all-world “I’m so pleased I’ve completely underutilized my vast talents” 6th man of the year! And Superman’s master plan is still to get out to LA, right?

Or here’s a better idea: Jeannie – how about you and I book the first flight to Montana and beg for Phil to come back?


5 Responses to “Sloppy Seconds: Mike Brown to the Lakers”

  1. I actually think Mike Brown’s a pretty good hire for the Lakers. This guy’s the fifth winningest coach in NBA history among coaches who’ve coached 500 games. His regular season record of 341-201 is sterling, and his playoff record is 42-29 is marred only by his lack of a title. He went to the NBA finals with a team whose second best player was Larry Hughes-that team had NO business playing in the NBA finals, whereas next year’s Lakers roster is still arguably the most talented in the NBA.

    Additionally, Brown is perhaps the one coach in the NBA most uniquely able to relate to Kobe Bryant-he had to deal with a similarly talented and similarly egotistical player-Lebron James in Cleveland. The difference is that in Cleveland Brown was undermined both in his relationship with James and in his ability to recruit, by the fact that James was not committed to Cleveland. With Bryant he will not face that problem-He and Bryant are now essentially tied together for 3 years, barring major collapse, and Bryant knows that he either has to buy in and try to win, or he’ll waste the last few years of his prime. By not involving Kobe in the hire, Brown will be able to deal with Kobe knowing he has the support of the Lakers’ front office, and in being hired without Kobe’s approval he doesn’t owe Kobe a thing. Since nobody cares about his legacy more than Kobe, I have a hard time seeing him undermining the team on the court, even if he and Brown hate each other. Finally, Mike Brown is 41. He is young enough to have lots of fire, passion, and time to the job. Larry Brown is 70-how much would he really have left? And although Shaw is many peoples’ favorites, he’s completely unproven and even if he turns out to be a great head coach, he won’t be coming into his own until Kobe’s entering the twilight of his career.

    I agree Mike Brown has warts. He’s limited as an offensive schemer and sometimes has trouble with substitutions and in-game management. He has the personality of a statue, which will give him trouble in LA, and that blank look on his face hardly inspires confidence. However, his results with a less talented roster in Cleveland than the one he will have in LA are impressive. Given that Red Auerbach is dead, the Lakers weren’t going to find anyone with a resume in the same stratosphere as Phil Jackson, but I don’t see anyone available who’s clearly better than Brown.

    Posted by Lochpster | May 26, 2011, 2:17 pm
    • Wow, you pretty much took everything I wanted to say, and posted it hours before I had a chance to (Damn Korean time difference!)…

      My only change would be calling the Lake Show “arguably the most talented in the NBA”. I think the highest you could put them is 2, but they certainly wouldn’t be out of the top 4. That is really just splitting hairs and personal opinion though.

      Great comment Lochpster, and great article Mamba!

      Posted by drubacca117 | May 26, 2011, 5:04 pm
      • Lochpster/Drubacca — thanks for the comments. I’ve thought about this for a bit and yes, if you purely intellectualize, you can come up for justifications for the Mike Brown as Laker head coach:

        * his winning record
        * his pedigree with the Spurs
        * his work with Lebron
        * his defensive prowess

        At the end of the day though, I have to use the eye test here. I just can’t see Brown as a legit top-level coach who is going to garner the respect of the Lakers stars and handle the LA spotlight. Few coaches can. Even in Cleveland, it didn’t seem like Brown always had completed control of that team.

        All that being said, there were slim pickings out there. So the Lakers were in a tough spot no matter what. (though I still don’t understand why they didn’t interview Van Gundy)

        Posted by Brown Mamba | May 27, 2011, 10:02 pm
  2. I would find it very amusing if we were to see the Lakers going 1 on 5 with Kobe like Lebron had to do in Cleveland. And besides, Kobe still has the big frontline (not knowing if one of those guys might be traded, though) to rebound the missed shots and put them back in.

    I’m not a Kobe fan, but I have to admit, this hiring doesn’t seem to make sense. I mean, this IS an organization that in the past has always exceeded to Bryant’s wishes, and now it seems like they’ve gone in a completely different direction from what he wanted. Also, we saw what happened to Cleveland during the playoffs and after Lebron left. They were garbage without LeBron (did they even win 20 games this season?), and if it wasn’t for LeBron’s otherworldly performance in Game 5 of the ECF in 2007, the Cavs never would’ve made the finals. How much did Mike Brown really have to do with any of their regular season success? Maybe he helped LeBron become a better defender, but that could’ve been a matter of necessity and/or natural progression just the same.

    From a coaching standpoint, isn’t Mike Brown the kind of guy who will only slow things down? Kind of a strange approach to take when everyone says the Lakers are too slow. People say the Lakers need to get better defensively, but it’s really only quick guards they have trouble with (also, they need some firepower off the bench, or maybe a defensive game-changer; anything would be better than what they’ve got outside of Odom). They’ll still overwhelm most teams with their stacked frontline, so going for a defensive-minded coach who doesn’t know how to run offense seems like one step forward and two steps back. People are always talking up defense and patting themselves on the back for it, but you DO need to be able to score as well.

    As for Kobe not putting his own legacy at risk by throwing a tantrum, he’s done it before (it’s part of the reason he’s so polarizing). Maybe he won’t do it this time because he sees this team as a legit contender? I don’t know. I just know that in the past, when Kobe wasn’t happy, the team suffered. Of course, a championship would erase any hardships endured along the way, but they have to get there first.

    Posted by Jose | May 26, 2011, 3:37 pm
    • Jose — thanks for the comment. I tend to agree with you. Kobe is all about winning, if you think he won’t rock the boat, I think you’re wrong. Kobe realizes he only has a few years left at the level he’s playing at, and therefore needs to maximize his opportunities. It will be interesting to see what he says when he chooses to break his silence.

      Secondly, it will be funny to see Kobe 1-on-5. Fun from a fan standpoint, terrible from a Laker success standpoint. For the Lakers to really benefit from Brown, they will have to be an incredible defense next year, and I’m just not sure this team, with its current personnel, can ever become that.

      Posted by Brown Mamba | May 27, 2011, 10:05 pm

Post a comment