As 11-time champion Phil Jackson just departed into the sunset, he set the standards high, winning five NBA Championships with the Lakers—team management knows they have their work cut out.
While they will not be able to get a coach who is equal to Jackson, they do have the opportunity to sign one of the greatest coaches of all time, Larry Brown.
The Lakers should contact Brown and sign him to a two-year deal. Brown recently expressed interest in returning to coaching at either the professional or collegiate level, but many teams are scared to take a chance on him because of his age and the “baggage” that he brings with him.
However, the Lakers only need him for two years, and his expertise and coaching skills at all levels undoubtedly make him the best candidate for the job.
Brown recently contacted UNLV to express interest in its head coaching vacancy (they eventually hired Dave Rice). This indicated not only Brown’s interest to coach, but his interest in coaching on the West Coast. Brown coached two seasons at UCLA from 1979-1981, and his team was a National Finalist in 1979-1980.
The Lakers' current roster has about two years of gas left in the tank. Lamar Odom is 31, Pau Gasol is 30 and Kobe Bryant is 32. The team will have some changes, such as the possibility of making a trade to strengthen the bench.
There are the rumors of the Lakers swinging a deal to acquire Dwight Howard in a trade with the Orlando Magic. As of right now, the Lakers have a young Andrew Bynum, 23 and a bunch of veterans who are not yet over-aged.
People will argue that the Lakers are “old” and they will back that claim up by bringing up the sweep this year in the second-round. However, Michael Jordan won his sixth championship at age 35.
Also, this Lakers team won 18 out of 19 games after the All-Star break in a dominating fashion. People will forget about Kobe’s ankle being hurt and automatically point to his age.
While some changes will most certainly need to be made, I don’t believe that this ship has completely sunk and the team can contend for a championship with a few tweaks.
One of these moves would be to acquire the services of Brown. Brown is actually one of two coaches (Doc Rivers) to win an NBA Championship by beating Jackson in the NBA Finals.
While the Triangle offense is undoubtedly the top offense in the league the last 20 years—capturing 11 championships and being in the NBA Final 13 times—Brown’s system is worth a try. His system utilizes weak-side ball screens and endorses movement by players without the basketball. His system also endorses a lot of guard penetration and points in the paint.
In the Mavericks series, the Lakers failed to get easy baskets and get points in the paint. With Brown’s system and his coaching style, he puts a huge emphasis on points in the paint and easy baskets. Also, Larry Brown is known for his strong defenses, which this year the Lakers were in and out on the defensive side of the ball.
In 2004, Brown’s Detroit Pistons held their opponents to 80.7 points per game. Imagine his ability to tighten up, demand accountability and increase the strength of the Lakers defense and, as he always says, get them to play together "the right way."
With Brown having two good coaching years left and this Lakers team having two years left, it’s a match made in heaven. Why not let Brown come to Los Angeles to finish his career and for Kobe and friends to finish out their best days by winning a championship?
The ultimate Hollywood ending.
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