Los Angeles Lakers Cutting Costs or Turning Their Back on the Phil Jackson Era?

Joye Pruitt@hoopselectSenior Analyst IJuly 6, 2011

EL SEGUNDO, CA - MAY 31:  Mike Brown, (L) the new head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, shares a laugh with owner Jerry Buss (C) and Buss' sons Jesse Buss after Brown's introductory news conference at the team's training facility on May 31, 2011 in El Segundo, California. Brown replaces Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who retired at the end of this season.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

For 11 seasons, we watched Phil Jackson coach a team through the heaviest of burdens and still manage to come away from the experience with an additional five rings to add to his repertoire, courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers.

When he announced that he would be retiring for good, I did not believe him.

I thought that it was a hoax. Then after much consideration and viewing the current situation that the Lakers’ lie in, I was swayed.

Jackson did not have another rebuilding session bone in his body. He was not going to endure the revival of the franchise well and made the right decision by bowing at this very moment.

Even though he had no thought that the Lakers’ season would end as it did, Jackson realized that his run with Kobe was coming to a stop.

That stop was not predicted to be as embarrassing or brash as a second-round sweep dismissal by the Dallas Mavericks. Still, I understand why he felt like right now was his time to walk away.

While everyone sits back and wonders when he will return, the Lakers’ organization seems to be operating to the contrary.

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What was first viewed as a move to clear some financial space looks like an overhaul. The Lakers appear to be clearing out the past and making room for the present.

The 2011 Los Angeles Lakers better known as the beginning of the Mike Brown era.

When Mike Brown stepped onto the center stage as the new leading man in Hollywood’s most recent installment of “Coaches Gone Wrong,” I was a bit skeptical.

Saying a bit would be a sizable understatement. I was shell shocked.

Brown did handle LeBron James, which says a lot about his composure and character. He also brought forth a couple of 60-plus win seasons for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Still, there must be something said about the fact that not only were his efforts not able to coax anymore stars to Ohio, but the team never won at the highest level.

Mike Brown is just as proven as LeBron James is. So while we crucify James for never being able to win a ring, we should hold off any praise for Brown until he handles his business at that level as well.

Los Angeles Lakers took a large leap of faith by choosing Brown as the man to fill Phil Jackson’s illustrious shoes.

Maybe Brown just has not had enough chances to accomplish the things that Jackson did. But maybe there is a small shred of inferiority between the two.

Players can get themselves to the big stage, but it takes the strategy of a superior coach to make sure they excel.

Brown does not seem like the proper follow-up. However, that is just another telltale sign of the shifting direction the franchise is embarking on.

Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images

The next step: clean house.

It was time for the Lakers to relieve all of the "old era" employees of their duties, including Lakers’ Asst. General Manager Ronnie Lester. After 24 years with the Lakers, Lester was informed that his contract would not be renewed.

So were at least 20 other personnel members.

Ronnie Lester was Andrew Bynum’s primary supporter when the kid was going through his growing pains before he had even gotten drafted by LA.

Nothing more serious than a weight loss, but the potential that he showed Lester is what makes him a standing fraction of the team today.

Even though the Lakers have been waiting for a while for Bynum’s true performance to emerge, their patience has most recently been awarded by his attempts at a Finals’ return in this year’s regular season end as well as the duration of the playoffs.

He still has a lot of growing to do, but it is apparent how important the team regards him.

The last 24 years have not been that bad have they?

Let’s count the ways. Kobe Bryant. Pau Gasol. Andrew Bynum. Six NBA Championships, 10 conference titles. Stop me when I get the part that would merit at least 20 personnel members being kicked out of the Laker’s front door on their hindparts.

Ronnie Lester is not only disappointed at how he was relieved of his position, but he is primarily concerned with the men that he has worked beside for so long that are not as notable as he is at the moment.

"I feel bad because they're great guys, they love the Lakers, they love working for the Lakers," Lester said. "They work really hard and they're really good at their jobs and now they're being thrown out in the cold with mortgages and kids to support, so it's not a comforting thought.”

He even made ESPN Los Angeles writer Ramona Shelburne promise to publish a few of their names in her article scripting the entire situation.

"Irving Thomas, who lives down in Miami. Adam Filippi, our European scout. Those two guys are invaluable," Lester said. "Gene Tormohlen, he's been with the Lakers for at least the last 20 years.”

It could be interpreted as the type of decision that had financial reason behind it. These men could have been possibly rehired at the end of the lockout.

I would stand firm beside that belief if Lester had not promptly sold his Manhattan Beach home last month shortly after the news broke.

While ex-members of the Lakers’ family find other ways to pay their bills, a specific member of the team seems to be taking part in a reunion of some sorts.

Ron Artest is not only being reunited with his former coach Mike Brown from when he was playing for the Indiana Pacers, but Chuck Person, who also worked with Brown in Indiana, has been hired in as an assistant coach.

The move seems like it will bring out the aching defense in Artest, excuse me Metta World Peace, that fans are dying to see again.

He had moments where his defensive edge resurged, but then again came the moments that he would disappear. With World Peace’s antics, there should never be a moment when you cannot find him on the floor unless he has been thrown out of the game.

Now, that his game will possibly be tended to what can we expect during the “Mike Brown Era”?

We can expect a few tears, an overhyped season that will come to disappoint and a few interpersonal arguments within the organization. There are too many toes being stepped on as the Lakers’ try to return to glory and too many pouts to be tended to.

Kobe Bryant was not consulted for the head coaching vacancy. Derek Fisher’s talent level is steadily diminishing. Mike Brown will be unprepared due to the lack of communication he is allowed to have with his players.

Ron Artest has turned sickeningly pleasant. Pau Gasol is playing like an alien invaded basketball player from Space Jam. Shannon Brown will most likely not be a Laker next season. Steve Blake is a bust.

God Bless America.

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