Making Sense of Latest L.A. Lakers Rumors Post Mike Brown Firing
There a few things more chaotic than the Los Angeles Lakers rumor mill.
Just ask Mike Brown.
Except you might not be able to, because according to Usa Today's Sam Amick, he has become the mill's latest victim, having been fired after the Lakers lost four of their first five games:
Lakers coach Mike Brown has been fired, USA TODAY Sports has learned - usat.ly/VN9aQ4—Sam Amick (@sam_amick) November 9, 2012
The move was surprising, yet not so surprising at the same time. Brown came under fire immediately after the team's first loss. Everything from his system down to the shoes he wore was being dissected and subsequently criticized.
But if you thought the chatter surrounding his job security was bad, you haven't seen diddly squat.
Because this was only just the beginning.
Tinseltown's rumor mill has already gotten worse.
Let's start with the why behind Mike Brown's exit.
For some reason, his firing came as shocking yet inevitable at the same time.
Though the Lakers weren't playing good basketball under his watch, it was understood that assemblies of this magnitude took time.
However, according to Alex Kennedy over at HOOPSWORLD, the proverbial writing may have been on the wall even before the season started:
While the three-game losing streak increased the amount of frustration in the locker room, it first surfaced several months ago. After the Lakers acquired Howard and Nash, several veteran free agents wanted to sign for the minimum so that they could compete for a championship in Los Angeles. However, Brown made it clear that he wasn’t going to expand his rotation regardless of who signed. This scared away the free agents and kept the Lakers from further bolstering their roster, which frustrated many players.
Whether or not you believe the Princeton offense was a good fit for the Lakers—it wasn't–is irrelevant. Brown reportedly started making waves in the locker room even before opening tip.
And when the players aren't happy with a coach, it makes no sense to keep him round.
Mike Brown's Immediate Replacement
After firing Mike Brown so swiftly, one would expect the Lakers to react even more quickly.
And they did, just not in the way some were anticipating and many were hoping for.
According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, current assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will oversee head-coaching duties right now:
League sources now say assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will coach the Lakers tonight against Golden State.—Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) November 9, 2012
Though Bickerstaff is not the big name people were hoping for, he does make sense. For now.
Let's assume that this move was premeditated—let's face it, everyone's going to anyway—and the Lakers have someone else in mind or already lined up. Are they really going to want to let it be known it was a long time coming?
No, given the sudden nature of the move, the franchise will want it to seem like it gave it plenty of thought and that locking someone up beforehand wasn't even on their mind. After all, five games isn't a lot of time to begin with, having another big name outside the door implies that the decision came even sooner.
Simply put, this saves face.
So bravo there, Los Angeles.
Phil Jackson One More Time?
According to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, former Lakers head coach is a potential candidate for the head-coaching job.
Though he didn't leave the team under the best of circumstances, he won five championships with Kobe Bryant and has 11 rings to his coaching name overall.
Jackson is also no stranger to coaching powerhouses. He managed to win multiple titles in spite of the tenuous relationship that existed between Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal at the time.
And if that's not enough, it also doesn't hurt that his Triangle offense was much more effective than Mike Brown's Princeton set has proved to be.
Don't rule out a reunion between these two parties just yet.
Nate McMillan a Candidate as Well?
Fresh off a recent stint with the Portland Trail Blazers, Nate McMillan is a candidate to replace Mike Brown as the Lakers new head coach.
According to a report filed by ESPN.com's Marc Stein prior to Brown's firing, McMillan's name was tossed around as a potential replacement if Brown couldn't save his job.
Well, Brown couldn't save his job, so McMillan may be in luck.
Except that he's probably not.
I've got nothing against the coach; he's a respectable bench fixture.
That said, he lost control of the locker room in Portland, where egos like Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford were running rampant. And if he couldn't manage players of those caliber, how is he supposed to handle Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard? Especially after this.
He can't, or rather, he shouldn't be given the opportunity to try.
Jerry Sloan to Replace Brown?
Now we get to the juicy stuff.
Not only is the Lakers' situation no different, but his name surfaced before Mike Brown was even out the door in Los Angeles, reports Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD:
“Jerry Sloan to L.A. by December 1,” one league source predicted. “Nash and Howard are the new Stockton and Malone. He wants a ring, not to mention the money. He didn’t seriously consider Orlando, Charlotte or Portland [openings] over the summer because he knew Los Angeles would open up.”
None of this should come as a surprise, though. Clearly, the Lakers are drawn to big names, so why wouldn't Sloan's hit their radar?
However, from a tactical standpoint, it makes sense as well.
Not only has Sloan won over 1200 games as a head coach—1,221 to be exact—but he coached one of the best pick-and-roll duos in league history in Karl Malone and John Stockton. With players like Dwight Howard and Steve Nash on the docket, his presence would ensure it doesn't go underutilized.
So, yeah, throwing his name into the fray makes sense.
His coaching makeup is already a great fit for what the Lakers have to work with.
A Mike D'Antoni and Steve Nash Reunion in the Mix?
Jerry Sloan is not alone.
With the Lakers in possession of one of the best pick-and-roll point guards of all time, Mike D'Antoni has also been a name that has been considered, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
It is unclear whether the organization will make a run at bringing back Phil Jackson, but one candidate prominently being discussed as a long-term possibility: Mike D'Antoni.
D'Antoni has been without a job since leaving the New York Knicks in 2011. D'Antoni had knee replacement surgery in the past couple weeks and is not yet on his feet. Would still need time to rehabilitate before he could go back to work.
From a strategic standpoint, D'Antoni makes plenty of sense.
Not only have he and Steve Nash led a team to prominence in the past, but he has a well-established relationship with Kobe Bryant as well, and his fast-paced offensive system will resolve Los Angeles' transitional struggles overnight.
And though there is some concern how his "one-in, four-out" scheme would work, keep in mind that Pau Gasol is one of the better stretch 4s in the league.
Don't expect D'Antoni's rehabilitation from knee surgery to complicate things, either. According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, that wouldn't prevent him from taking the job if the Lakers want him.
And they should want him. His offensive system is unstoppable, and with a two-way big man like Dwight Howard, a lack of defense isn't an issue.
So, yeah, throwing his name into the mix makes sense too.
Brian Shaw to Finally Get His Shot?
You remember Brian Shaw, don't you?
He's the one the Lakers passed over in favor of Mike Brown, and looked how that worked out.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, he is also a candidate Los Angeles is considering nonetheless.
Shaw is currently an assistant with the Indiana Pacers, so the Lakers would need permission to speak with him, but his name is an intriguing one to ponder.
Many were surprised when he didn't replace Phil Jackson. After all, he had spent plenty of time around him and knew his Triangle offense from the inside and out.
That holds true to this day, as like Jackson, Shaw would like to reintegrate that offense into Los Angeles' repertoire.
However, when asked about rejoining the Lakers by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star, Shaw replied with a "no comment."
Obviously, he may not want to draw a flurry of criticism for talking about the prospect of coaching another team, but at the same time, his ego has to be bruised from losing out the first time around.
If he and the Lakers can keep the past in the past, though, he would hardly be a bad fit to replace the newly departed Brown
Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy to Get Hot and Heavy Again?
How much would you pay to see Stan Van Gundy coach Dwight Howard again?
Or rather, how much would the Lakers pay?
Though Van Gundy seems like an unlikely candidate to succeed Mike Brown, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, he is a candidate nonetheless.
Naturally, you can color me both shocked and intrigued.
Howard and Van Gundy's first stint didn't pan out too well. By the end of the coach's tenure with the Orlando Magic, he had already publicly admitted Howard wanted him fired.
How could the two coexist after that escapade?
Well, apparently it wouldn't be a problem. Van Gundy told Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch that he would have no issue coaching Howard again.
Are we to believe him? Is this even a good idea?
It may, in fact, be a good idea. Van Gundy is familiar with Howard's talents, after all.
That said, Los Angeles already made one expensive mistake in Brown, so it's not going to want to make another one.
Which renders this reunion unlikely.