The Los Angeles Times’ Mark Medina recently sat down with Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person to talk about all things Lakers. It’s an interesting interview, and I recommend reading the full piece, but one particularly interesting part of the interview came when Person was asked about how the team will play defense under new head coach Mike Brown:
“I think the basic [defensive] scheme will be the same. We’ll keep the ball out of the middle of the floor, force the ball baseline without getting beat, come over from the weak side to do what we call “trap the box,” and make sure the ball stays out of the paint. We are going to shrink the floor and invite opponents to shoot with a contested hand on every shot, so that won’t change from last year. What will change is we will have the players be held more accountable for executing our defensive philosophy and defensive game plans from game-to-game. Mike won’t have any leniency when it comes to that end of the floor. He’ll allow them to make some mistakes offensively, but there won’t be much room defensively for guys to go off on their own and do things outside of the defensive system that we implement.”
Person notes that the team did implement a new defensive scheme last season, and it’s worth noting that the Lakers have been a top-6 defensive team in each of the last two seasons. Brown is known for his defensive coaching acumen, and the schemes he brought to Cleveland completely changed the culture of the team, but I don’t believe it would be reasonable to expect a similarly dramatic culture shift in Los Angeles next season.
ESPN Los Angeles’ Dave McMenamin has the report:
LOS ANGELES — After meeting with new Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown on consecutive days late last week to interview for an assistant coach position, Chuck Person is keeping his options open.
Person traveled to Houston on Sunday and will interview with the Rockets for a position on new head coach Kevin McHale’s staff on Monday, according to multiple sources.
Mike Brown got his big break as a defensive assistant in San Antonio, and is expected to bring on former Cavaliers assistant Mike Malone has his “defensive coordinator” in Los Angeles, so it may be a wise move for Person to keep his options open in this situation.
Person, who had a long NBA career after being a #4 overall pick and winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1987, has served as an assistant coach with the Cavaliers, Pacers, Kings, and Lakers since his retirement as a player.
According to the Los Angeles Times’ Mark Medina, Lakers owner Jerry Buss said in a recent radio interview that the team is “very close” to hiring legendary coach Phil Jackson’s replacement:
Lakers owner Jerry Buss declined to provide a definitive timetable on hiring a replacement for Phil Jackson as the Lakers coach, but he said the organization is “very close” to finalizing its search.
“I don’t know exactly when but a week is a long time,” Buss said in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday with Playboy Radio’s Michael Eaves and Bonnie Jill Laflin on Sirius/XM Radio. “I should say that.”
Buss and executives Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak met last Tuesday to draw up an official list, butThe Times’ Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner have reported it’s possible interviews with candidates might not happen until the first week of June. The possibilities, Bresnahan and Turner and other media outlets have reported, include Rick Adelman, Mike Dunleavy, Brian Shaw,Chuck Person and Mike Brown.
If the hire does happen in the very near future, that would seem to favor longtime Laker assistant Brian Shaw, who Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher have publicly vouched for. However, Buss made it clear that the players will not be the key factors behind the front office’s hiring decision:
Buss didn’t talk about any candidates specifically, but he made it clear he wouldn’t consult any players about whom to hire as the next coach.
“Obviously, we have to select somebody who has a reputation that players would be happy with,” Buss said. “But to ask a direct player to select a particular coach, that’s general manager territory. That’s out of the player domain.”
Considering how big of an adjustment the Lakers will have to make in the wake of Jackson’s departure, it may be in the Lakers’ best interest to make their hire sooner rather than later. However, the most important thing for the team going forward is obviously to pick the right candidate for such an important job, no matter how long the process ends up taking.
It’s not fair — it’s on the players, not him — but Frank Vogel is not coming back as the Pacers head coach next season. He is this season’s Kim Hughes — good guy, good coach, thrown in an impossible situation and not brought back because he could not herd cats.
So who is next?
Mike Brown, the former Cavaliers coach, is the frontrunner, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. But that comes with a caveat — Larry Bird has to return as team president. If he does not, the door swings wide open.
I may be in the minority here, but I think Brown deserves another shot. He got the Cavs to play defense, he got them 60+ wins. Yes, his offensive sets may have been a bit simple and he struggled to get LeBron to thrive consistently at the end of games. He should meet Erik Spoelstra. Brown also struggled because he was a defense first coach who was thrown guys by management who did not fit that mold (hello Shaq) in an effort to keep LeBron happy. Brown did a good job and deserves another chance.
Also on the list Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey and Lakers assistant Chuck Person (a Pacers legend, which is why he gets in the door).