HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The consensus is that it takes 15-20 games to really evaluate how good or bad a team is. Mike Brown didn’t get nearly that long.
USA Today’s Sam Amick was the first to report that Brown has been fired as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers after a disappointing 1-4 start.
The Lakers made it official a short time later with a terse press release:
“This was a difficult and painful decision to make,” said [general manager Mitch] Kupchak. “Mike was very hard-working and dedicated, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to make a change at this time. We appreciate Mike’s efforts and contributions and wish him and his family the best of luck.”
Less than 48 hours ago, Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss gave Brown a vote of confidence. Either Buss was lying through his teeth, or he — or someone around him — had a serious change of heart.
According to TNT’s David Aldridge, Brown’s camp believes the decision to let him go came straight from Lakers owner Jerry Buss and not from his son, Jim, or general manager Kupchak and without any influence from Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant.
While it’s easy to blame the slow start on the Princeton offense that Brown decided to put in this summer, the Lakers actually have played better offensively (where they rank sixth through Thursday’s games) than defensively (23rd). And their problems really lie with their lack of depth; L.A.’s starting lineups — with either Steve Nash or Steve Blake — have outscored their opponents by 35 points over their five games.
But ultimately, it was Brown that took the fall.
Early speculation on possible coaches to replace Brown centers on former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, former Lakers assistant (currently with the Indiana Pacers) Brian Shaw, former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and, most prominently, former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. But Aldridge reports that the Lakers are not seriously considering Jackson.
Current Lakers assistant Bernie Bickerstaff will take the reins on an interim basis when the Lakers host the Golden State Warriors tonight. According to Aldridge, the Lakers are still working on a list of possible replacements. Bickerstaff may or may not be on that list.