It’s official: Mike Brown is your new Lakers coach

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UPDATE 6:19 pm: The Lakers have released an official statement on Mike Brown.

“In response to rampant speculation and reports about our head coaching position and Mike Brown, we’ve met with Mike and are very impressed with him. In addition, we have an outline for an agreement in place and hope to sign a contract within the next few days.”

It will get done. Mike Brown is the man.

3:32 pm: Well Lakers fans, you have a coach who spits in a cup on the sidelines. Congrats!

Mike Brown has reached a deal to become the next head coach of the Lakers, tweets Chris Broussard of ESPN. And he adds that Kobe Bryant, while he may have been surprised initially, is on board.

Deal is done. Mike Brown and Lakers agree to 4-year, $18.25 million deal. Team option for 4th year. Brown gets $2.5 mil if option not taken

Kobe on board with hiring of Brown, has great respect for him, according to sources. Lakers will announce Brown hiring this afternoon.

What else did you expect Kobe to say publicly? He wants to win, he has to back the coach. What really matters is how he buys in — and through words and actions gets the rest of the team to buy in — come training camp and next season.

Brown, the former Cavaliers coach for the last five years Mike Brown was there, steps in because he impressed Jim Buss (the son of owner Jerry Buss), the guy really making the calls now.

This is a radical change of style and a departure from what was, and what had worked for the Lakers, for years. That alone makes it a risky move, but moving away from the shadow of Jackson was something the Buss family wanted to do. (Well, except Jeanie.)

All Brown has to do is fill the shoes of Phil Jackson and appease a fan base that isn’t happy unless the Lakers win two NBA titles every season. Good luck with that. He comes in with the advantage of having coached in the media circus that followed LeBron James around, so he is used to coaching a team with distractions. And, Brown was an assistant with the Indiana Pacers when Ron Artest was there, so he already knows what he is getting into.

Brown led the Cavaliers to two 60-win seasons and the NBA finals one time. He is a defense-first coach and that is why this could work — where the Lakers collapsed in the playoffs was on the defensive end. Their rotations were almost non-existent and nobody “helped the helper.” The team just seemed lost on that end of the floor, and if Brown can bring a renewed committment on that end the Lakers will remain serious contenders.

But defense is not what concerns Lakers fans — it is Brown’s offense, which had the reputation of being LeBron-centric and boring. But what Brown did was play to the talent given him, which was not really a running group. And when your other offensive options are Delonte West and what’s left of Shaquille O’Neal, any good coach would run every possession through LeBron.

The Lakers can score whatever system with their talent. The question is, will they follow Brown into battle like they did Jackson?

Rumor: Grizzlies had to choose between Marc Gasol and David Fizdale

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David Fizdale has been linked to most of the NBA’s head-coaching vacancies.

He developed a legion of backers as lead a Heat assistant, and he did good things guiding the Grizzlies before they unexpectedly fired him. He deserves consideration.

But he also must explain his fractured relationship with Memphis star Marc Gasol. They weren’t speaking for a while.

And maybe the problem was even worse than that.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to a source close to Fizdale briefed on the Grizzlies’ decision, it was ownership having to make a choice — trade their All-Star center Marc Gasol, who has fallen in love with its small-market city, or fire the coach. Their relationship had gotten that bad.

If Grizzlies ownership felt it had to choose between Gasol and Fizdale, it’s not clear why.

Fizdale benched Gasol down the stretch during the coach’s last game, and Gasol publicly expressed his frustration.

But Gasol denied issuing a me-or-Fizdale ultimatum. Fizdale said focus on his relationship with Gasol was “overblown,” adding he cared far more about whether he could win with a player than whether they got along personally.

Memphis obviously sided with Gasol – probably too strongly.

LeBron James bought Cavs teammates matching designer suits to wear to game tonight

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I’m still trying to decide if this is cool or a little too Stepford.

The Cavaliers rolled into the Bakers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tonight wearing matching designer suits, all paid for by LeBron James and custom fitted to each player.

If a college team rolled into a game in four-digit designer suits, the NCAA would have questions. And not about the vests.

The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team, and if he wants to buy his teammates suits and tell them to wear them it’s going to happen. Is it a bonding thing that helps bring them together? Sure. Is it in place to make sure LeBron remembers which ones are his new teammates? Probably not.

Do the suits help on the court? No. And the Cavaliers better bring it in Game 3 because if they go down 2-1 in this series — something that is a realistic possibility — the whispers of doubt are going to get a lot louder.

Report: Knicks to discuss coaching vacancy with Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer

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Mike Budenholzer is restless in Atlanta, seeing a rebuild coming and looking at other jobs (something Hawks management is fine with). He went down the road a ways with the Suns before pulling out of that process, but he’s still looking around.

The Knicks are casting a wide net in their search, talking to virtually everyone looking for coaching jobs.

So, this seemed inevitable, right? Budenholzer and the Knicks are going to talk, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This will be very preliminary. The Knicks have already had some level of conversation with Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, David Blatt, Mike Woodson, and TNT analyst Kenny Smith (Jackson and Fizdale are the rumored early leaders). Budenholzer has established a style and culture in Atlanta, giving the franchise a path forward. New York could certainly use that.

However, the Knicks job comes with real challenges, too. That starts with James Dolan as owner and the erratic, at times paranoid culture he has created there. Also, expectations in New York are always high, but the team will be without Kristaps Porzigis for at least half (maybe all) of the upcoming season as he recovers from an ACL injury, and that puts a ceiling on the team in the short term. Is all that worth leaving Atlanta for?

 

Stephen Curry to begin “modified” practices with Warriors

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Golden State has flipped the switch in the first round, going up 3-0 on overmatched San Antonio. The Warriors have been outscoring the Spurs by 20.2 points per 100 possessions in the series, allowing less than a point per possession on defense and scoring when and where they want. Kevin Durant is averaging 27.3 points per game, Klay Thompson is shooting 63.3 percent from three and scoring 25.7 points per game, and the Warriors are clicking.

But they are not yet whole — they need Stephen Curry back. Not for this round, but before the Western Conference Finals for sure.

Curry was re-evaluated Friday and will begin practicing with the team in a limited — or “modified” to use the team’s term — way.

The target has always been a return somewhere during the second round, and that still seems to be on track. That is also a little faster than traditional for a Grade 2 MCL sprain, which can take up to two months to heal (not the 4-6 weeks of the Warriors timeline), but the Warriors are being cautious here for now.

Eventually, the Warriors will need him back — their offense is built around Curry and his ball movement and movement off the ball. Curry’s gravity to draw defenders, even when he doesn’t have the ball, opens up the floor for others. Put simply, if he’s 28 feet from the bucket on the weak side defenders still have to watch and be near him, and help defenders need to be aware, which pulls the defense to wherever he is. Without Curry and the Warriors take more midrange jumpers, it’s just in the first round series against the Spurs they are hitting them.