Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers

Don’t buy the rumors Mike Brown’s job is in immediate danger


The Lakers are a patient organization. One of their great strengths — along with insane revenue generation — is they don’t make rash moves, they wait until the odds are in their favor then the act decisively. They don’t panic. They don’t care what you write on an internet message board or what a talk radio host says.

So sorry Lakers fans, Mike Brown’s job is not in immediate danger. He’s going to get his chance.

There was a report at Hoopsworld recently about how “many within NBA circles believe” Brown is on his way out sooner rather than later. But that is the voices swirling around the outside of the organization, the kind of people often prone to knee-jerk reactions.

That’s not the Lakers. That’s not how they have operated under the Buss family.

If you talk to people around the Lakers organization the feeling is very different — Mike Brown is on solid footing right now.

Look what Jim Buss told Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register, referencing Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and still the ultimate power Jerry Buss.

“I’m a hundred percent behind Mike Brown. Mitch is. My dad is. We as a collective soul are behind him 100 percent.”

Collective Soul? Now I’m picturing Kupchak singing “Shine” and it’s a little disturbing.

But Ding emphasizes the point, saying the Lakers management doesn’t expect Brown to be Phil Jackson (who would have gotten a pass from fans for this start because his teams came together).

Jim Buss’ comments about Brown in our recent chat made clear that ownership’s view is that Brown’s gift is being “well prepared.” That’s not very exciting, and it’s certainly not particularly fascinating genius, but it’s how Brown was for his Lakers job interview, and it’s what he’s expected to be now.

“I felt that anybody who works that hard in preparation, if we give him the right players, he’ll figure out how to win,” Buss said.

That philosophy is up for debate. My two cents are that there are only a handful of truly elite NBA coaches that make a team better by walking in the door — Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Rick Adelman, etc… — and after that there are a lot of solid NBA coaches who can win a lot, maybe even a ring, if you give them the right talent. Brown is one of those guys to me. He works hard and with time savvy veteran players like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol will figure it out. With or without a lot of input from Brown.

If the Lakers are still a hot mess as we get to the time you start actually doing you Christmas shopping — don’t tell me you start before Dec. 15, we know better — then the ground may shift. May. The Lakers have a couple year window with this group and they aren’t going to waste one. But if the Lakers make a change the more likely outcome is it happens after the season. Also know if it gets to that and the Lakers do decide to make a move, it will not be to a coach who will come in and dominate the franchise the way Jackson did. This is Jim Buss’ show now and the coach will work for and with him. You decide for yourself how someone like Jerry Sloan would fit in that dynamic.

But take your time, because the Lakers will. Mike Brown is not going anywhere, not in the short term.

Pelicans’ Tyreke Evans says he returns to lineup Tuesday

Tyreke Evans
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The Pelicans have needed this.

There is not one simple reason the Pelicans stumbled out of the gate this season and might as well be booking late April tee times now (they will not recover and make the playoffs). It’s a combination of issues. But at the top of any list needs to be injuries, and specifically the injury to Tyreke Evans, who had his knee scoped back in training camp.

Evans will suit up for the Pelicans Tuesday. This had been rumored for a while, but Evans himself confirmed it on Instagram.

Gm lets get it I'm not a hundred percent but happy to play today first game back #beastmode #takeflightshow

A photo posted by Tyreke Evans (@tyrekeevans) on

The Pelicans desperately need his shot creation. Anthony Davis is an unquestionable beast, but he’s not a guy you can just throw the rock to and watch him create for himself and others out on the wing. Jrue Holiday can’t really do that either. The Pelicans have looked better with Ish Smith at the point of late because he can create a little thanks to his quickness.

Evans is better at this than anyone else they have. Getting him back in the mix helps.

Norris Cole, who played fantastically for the Pelicans last season, also is expected to return to the rotation tonight.

With those two back and the team starting to find a groove, they can become respectable to dangerous. But I just can’t see them climbing out of the hole they are in and find a way into the playoffs.


Luke Walton is NBA Coach of the Month despite zero official wins

Luke Walton
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If you were going to name the Western Conference Coach of the Month for November, there was only one choice to make — the coach of the undefeated Golden State Warriors.

So congratulations Steve Kerr, since he gets the credit for those 19 and counting wins… er, wait.

The NBA announced it has given November Coach of the Month award to Luke Walton, the interim Warriors’ coach who has guided the team while Kerr is recovering from back surgery. The league also announced Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt as the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month.

As the NBA explained earlier in the day, they see the Warriors as still Kerr’s team — he was the architect who put in the systems and built the foundation, while Walton is just living in the house for a while. Walton is a housesitter. So the fact the team was undefeated under Walton is moot, he gets no credit for the wins, they all go on Kerr’s resume. But Walton can win the Coach of the Month award for guiding the Warriors with their league-best point differential of 15.4 points per game.

This was expected, but now it is official.

He could win it again for December, unless Steve Kerr decides to come back

Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan tied NBA record with 22 missed free throws Monday

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DeAndre Jordan tied his personal best with 12 made free throws Monday night against the Trail Blazers.

But that’s not what anybody is talking about with Jordan’s trips to the free throw line Tuesday.

So you don’t have to do the math yourself, Jordan hit just 35.3 percent of his free throws. When the Clippers pulled away with a mini-run in the fourth quarter, Blazers coach Terry Stotts responded with hack-a-Jordan, and Doc Rivers refused to take him out. The result was nine intentional fouls and trips to the free throw line in less than two minutes.

It was ugly to watch.

The purist’s answer here is “if he hits his free throws this never happens, so learn to shoot them.” That’s the camp Adam Silver is in, and it’s his voice (and that of the other owners) that matters. There is no appetite around the league to change the rule, even though more and more players are being subjected to it.

I would argue that fouling intentionally off the ball in the first place is outside the spirit of the game — it’s not playing basketball — and unsportsmanlike. I think it’s bad for the sport, much worse than missed free throws and a dragged out game. I would like to see any time there is an off-the-ball foul the aggrieved team having a choice of free throws or the ball out-of-bounds.

But I’m in the minority. The rule isn’t changing soon. Which means Jordan — or Dwight Howard or Rajon Rondo or someone — is going to get the chance to set a new free throw futility mark soon. That will be fun to watch.

Rumor: Houston seeing if there is trade market for Ty Lawson

Ty Lawson

While it does happen — and the ones that do happen tend to be bigger names — December is not a time the NBA does a lot of trades. Team GMs are always willing to talk, listen, and get a feel for the market, but it’s not until after the first of the year — and closer to the February trade deadline — before the market picks up momentum.

But there are always trade rumors, and the well-connected Steve Kyler over at BasketballInisiders.com had an interesting one — the Houston Rockets might be open to moving Ty Lawson.

The Rockets have been sniffing around the league for deals and there is a belief among other teams that Lawson could be had in trade, and had cheaply. Lawson is owed $12.4 million this season with the final $13.21 million of his deal being fully non-guaranteed.

As the Rockets search for ways to change, there is a belief that Lawson could be the first Rocket player moved. But given how poorly Lawson has played in Houston and his troublesome off-the-court history, it’s hard to imagine that Lawson alone is going to yield much in return. But as teams start to get desperate, Lawson does have a career assist average of more than 6.5 assists per game and averaged 9.6 per game last season for the Nuggets.

The Rockets are 10.4 points per 100 possessions better this season when Lawson is on the bench rather than starting. Lawson and James Harden — both of whom need the ball in their hands to be most effective — get outscored by 9.3 points per 100 possession when they are paired.  Pair Lawson with Dwight Howard and the Rockets are -11.4 per 100.

The Rockets clearly need to shake things up, and firing coach Kevin McHale and bringing in J.B. Bickerstaff has not been the answer. They have serious effort issues, which leads to real locker room chemistry questions. If they move Lawson, with that salary they should get a player of some value in return. If a good team loses a point guard to injury, Lawson could be a viable alternative.

Moving Lawson would be no magic bullet for Houston right now, but don’t be shocked if you hear a lot Lawson rumors as the trade deadline nears.