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Stein: Lakers interested in Mike Brown


Here’s the report, according to the ultra-reliable Marc Stein of

The Los Angeles Lakers are taking a deliberate approach to their search for a successor to Phil Jackson, but NBA coaching sources told the team has added Mike Brown to its list of candidates.

The former Cleveland Cavaliers coach, now working as an analyst for ESPN, is expected to interview “soon” with the Lakers, sources say.

Brown would become the fourth known candidate for the job, along with former Houston Rockets coach Rick Adelman, ex-Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy and Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, who is regarded as the only serious in-house contender to replace Jackson.

Brown would certainly be an interesting choice for the Lakers. Brown, a former San Antonio assistant, is known for being a defense-first coach with limited offensive skills. That’s not a reputation he deserves.

Brown’s teams were mediocre offensively when his starting backcourt consisted of Eric Snow and Larry Hughes. Show me a coach who can get a good offense going while starting Eric Snow and Larry Hughes, and I’ll show you a miracle worker. Once the Cavaliers acquired Mo Williams and Delonte West before the 2008-09 season, they became very good offensively. In fact, the Cavaliers posted a better offensive efficiency mark in both the 2008-09 and 09-10 season than the Lakers did last year.

Brown’s offense was often reliant on LeBron James, but isn’t that just Occam’s Razor at work? As we saw this season, the Cavaliers did not have a lot of player capable of creating shots on their own around James. And it was hard enough for Erik Spoelstra to get LeBron to buy into playing off the ball while he was surrounded by Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh; should Mike Brown really be thought less of for not getting James to work with Mo Williams as the other primary ballhandler? Brown can coach on both ends of the floor, and his poor offensive reputation is a complete travesty.

The main issue with Brown for the Lakers is whether he’s done enough to earn the respect of the Laker veterans, namely Kobe Bryant. Even though Kobe’s matured over the years, he’s still prone to hijacking the offense and doing things his own way, and he may not want to listen to a coach with 11 less rings than his previous one.

Even though Rick Adelman hasn’t won a championship either (thanks to Kobe, one could argue), but he’s been a head coach much longer than Brown has, and that extra experience could prove invaluable when coaching a veteran team like the Lakers. Plus, the Princeton offense was built for skilled high-post players like Pau Gasol. Adelman should still be the Lakers’ first choice, but Brown would do a better job in Los Angeles than most think he would.

Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor
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The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.

Kobe Bryant announces this is his final season


It has seemed like this was it for a while. Kobe Bryant has been frustrated; he hasn’t been able to produce like he expects — his play has been hard to watch — and the Lakers are a train wreck.

Kobe made it official Sunday via the Players’ Tribune — this is his final season. He did it via a letter called “Dear Basketball.”

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

It’s not coincidental this was announced a couple days before the Lakers travel to Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia to face the Sixers. Also remember Kobe is an investor in The Players’ Tribune.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly released this statement:

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game.  Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.

“I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Kobe will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. Few can come close to his resume: Five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, 15 time All-NBA teams, one MVP, 17 times an All-Star (and the All-Star Game MVP four times). And we could go on and on.

Good on Kobe for doing this now. After 55,000 NBA minutes his body has quit on him, and where his mind is still willing the flesh is clearly weak right now. He has not been able to adapt his game to the changing realities of what he can do.

Kobe has said he doesn’t want a “Derek Jeter Farewell Tour” but that will be the feel from here on out. Expect some special recognition at the All-Star Game in Toronto.

Bulls’ Dunleavy to see specialist after suffering setback with back injury

Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah
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CHICAGO—Over the past few weeks, Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy has seemed to be making progress in his back rehab. Dunleavy underwent back surgery shortly before the start of training camp and was initially given a timeline of 8-10 weeks. Recently, he’s been increasing his workload, and he traveled with the team on their recent west coast road trip.

However, his recovery may have hit a snag.

“Mike is going to see a doctor again tomorrow and then we should have a better update after that,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Sunday. “He had a little bit of soreness. But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.”

An update to Dunleavy’s status is coming, but given Dunleavy’s age (35) and the frequency of back injuries to reoccur, this news certainly isn’t encouraging. Between Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, the Bulls have struggled at both ends of the floor on the wing. Getting Dunleavy back, whenever that happens, will be a huge help. But nobody knows when that will be.

Stan Van Gundy calls out Andre Drummond’s effort after loss to Thunder

Andre Drummond
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After a promising start to the season, the Pistons have lost three of their last four games and seven of their last 10. And although he’s been outstanding for most of the season, Andre Drummond has not been above receiving criticism from Stan Van Gundy. The coach called out Drummond’s effort on Friday night after a loss to the Thunder.

Via Sportando:

“I didn’t think he brought much energy to the Milwaukee game, and I didn’t think he brought much energy tonight,” Van Gundy said of the two beatings the Pistons received this week. “Why that is, I don’t know. But we need a lot more from him than we got tonight.”

Calling out your best player in the media is bold, but Van Gundy has enough of a track record and a reputation, going back to his days in Orlando with Dwight Howard, that he can get away with it. It also sends a message to the entire team that Van Gundy isn’t going to hold his star to a different standard than the rest of the team.

Despite a couple of poor performances, Drummond is having a career year, leading the league in rebounding at 17.1 per game while also averaging 17.9 points.