5 Out-of-Work Head Coaches Who Are Better Fits for L.A. Lakers Than Mike Brown
The Los Angeles Lakers stand at 1-3 and the question has already presented itself: Does head coach Mike Brown have what it takes to guide his star-studded roster to a championship? The Princeton offense he's running has struggled thus far, and fans seem to be getting impatient.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that as long as Mike Brown is coaching them, the Lakers will not win a championship.
His 314-166 record is nice, but this is the same man who couldn't win a title with the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers, though he did lose the NBA Finals in 2007. With even more stars in Los Angeles, it's only a matter of time before he loses control of the wheel and crashes the bus.
Simply put, Brown is not the right man for the Lakers head coaching gig. In fact, he's the absolute last man who should have this job. If the bleeding doesn't stop soon, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak must be ready to make some calls in the very near future.
No. 5: Jeff Van Gundy
Head Coaching Record: 430-318
Playoff Record: 44-44
Currently a color commentator for ESPN, Van Gundy has 11 years of head coaching experience, split between the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks. He guided the No. 8-seeded Knicks to the NBA Finals in 1999 where he lost to Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs in five games.
The best part about Van Gundy's coaching experience, however, is that he's committed to defense. This is ideal considering the Lakers have the best defensive player in the league in center Dwight Howard.
Offensively, Van Gundy is all about mismatches, but he also lets certain players control the offense and uses an iso-like game for success. Be it Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell in New York, or Tracy McGrady in Houston, the man knows how to get the best out of his scorers.
If there's anyone who could get Steve Nash out of his funk, it's Van Gundy.
No. 4: Mike D'Antoni
Head Coaching Record: 388-339
Playoff Record: 26-29
D'Antoni's record may not scream championship-caliber coach, but he should be considered for the Lakers' head coaching job for one reason. He coached Steve Nash in Phoenix for four years and turned the Suns into the fast-paced team they are today.
He has the basic building blocks to do the same in Los Angeles, from his pick-and-roll-friendly point guard Nash to an explosive big man in Dwight Howard. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are both good at scoring points in bunches, so they could easily adapt to the new system.
The only real mark against D'Antoni is that he can't exactly work with superstars.
His struggles with the New York Knicks were defined by his inability to work with Carmelo Anthony and ultimately drove him to resign midseason.
Still, given his good relationship with Nash, it's worth giving him at least a one-year deal.
No. 3: Phil Jackson
Head Coaching Record: 1,155-485
Playoff Record: 229-104, 11 NBA Championships
It's happened before, ladies and gentlemen, but could it happen again?
Jackson left the Lakers after the team lost to the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, only to return after a year away, during which time the Lakers were coached by Rudy Tomjanovich (who resigned midseason) and Frank Hamblen, who missed the playoffs.
Granted, the odds of the 67-year-old returning to the Lakers sidelines are slim, but the fact is that Jackson knows the team, fans and culture.
That is more important than one may think.
He has won five rings in Los Angeles and with the roster he has at his disposal now, his triangle offense would shine.
The only problem with Jackson as the Lakers coach is that the age of the Lakers would show. With Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol as the focal points of the offense, the team would become predictable, and Steve Nash's talent would simply be wasted.
Still, his history in Laker-land speaks for itself.
No. 2: Flip Saunders
Head Coaching Record: 638-526
Playoff Record: 47-51
Saunders' head coaching experience goes back to 1995 when he took over the helm for the Minnesota Timberwolves. In each of his nine full seasons there, the Timberwolves made the playoffs but lost in the first round eight times.
His playoff fortunes changed once he took over the Pistons. The man went to the Conference Finals in each of his three years in the Motor City before team General Manager Joe Dumars fired him due to the need for a "new voice."
Sure, Saunders may have done badly with the Washington Wizards, but he had little to no talent to work with and absolutely zero veteran leadership. He'd have plenty of that with the Lakers. If GM Mitch Kupchak were to give him a chance, Saunders would come even closer to winning that elusive championship ring.
No. 1: Jerry Sloan
Head Coaching Record: 1,221-803
Playoff Record: 98-104
After unexpectedly resigning from the Utah Jazz midway through the 2010-11 season, there have been plenty of opportunities for Sloan to get back into the coaching game. The Charlotte Bobcats showed some interest in his services over the summer, but he took himself out of contention for the job.
Still, this is a man who spent over two decades with the Jazz and turned them into perennial playoff contenders. He turned John Stockton and Karl Malone into one of the most deadly tandems in NBA history and were it not for a no-call on Michael Jordan in the 1998 NBA Finals, he easily could have had a championship ring or two.
Were he to come to the Lakers this season, he would already have Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard at his disposal, not to mention Dwight Howard. He would utilize each of his players' talents accordingly and turn the Lakers into an extremely balanced force that could win games in so many ways.
Thus, while it may be a bit early to give up on Brown, pursuing Sloan should constantly be in the back of Mitch Kupchak's mind.