HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Lakers coach Mike Brown had all the pressure in the basketball world on his shoulders the moment he decided to accept the offer to replace a living legend like Phil Jackson.
But that’s an institutional pressure any coach would have faced stepping into those gigantic footsteps.
Now comes an even more specific set of pressures for Brown, whose job it is to sort out the Lakers’ point guard situation now that Derek Fisher is gone and Ramon Sessions has been added to back up Steve Blake.
Brown has a rotation in mind: Blake as the starter and Sessions as his backup with both capable of playing off the ball late in games when Kobe Bryant is handling facilitator duties or playing together in a three-guard rotation with Bryant, if called for.
But what if the proposed upgrade and new rotation don’t take hold in time for the Lakers to make the championship push expected? That heat will undoubtedly fall on Brown, who explained his new mix to the Los Angeles Daily News like this:
“Right now, Steve Blake is my starting point guard, and he’s my starting point guard for the foreseeable future until there’s a time I think I need to make a change and right now I don’t see a time right now, but who knows?” Brown said.
Is that because Brown likes Blake as his starter or Sessions as a backup?
“Both,” Brown said.
“Basically, Steve Blake has taken Derek Fisher’s spot and Ramon Sessions has taken Steve Blake’s spot,” Brown added.
Presumably the rotation will change once Sessions becomes more comfortable in the Lakers’ offensive and defensive schemes and the team plays against the sort of young, fast and athletic point guards that hurt them in the past.
It’s no secret the reason the Lakers acquired Sessions from the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday and traded Fisher to the Houston Rockets was to match up better with point guards like Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Sessions is the Lakers’ only hope of dealing with the likes of Westbrook or any of the other big point guards in the league. Blake, as valuable as he is, does not have the size or defensive chops to match those guys. Few players in the league can.
But the Lakers are hopeful they have the raw materials to work with in Sessions. They’ve taken a huge risk. And now it will be up to Brown and his staff to make sure they get as much as they can out of Sessions and whatever he can bring to the table for a team whose glaring deficiency was its shortcomings at the position.
That said, when the Lakers are in a late-game situation and need a big shot that Kobe Bryant doesn’t take, will they be as confident with the ball in the hands of either Blake or Sessions?
We think not. But we shall see …