Tag: Lakers coach

Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers

Report: Kobe Bryant “surprised” Lakers to hire Brown


Superstars are used to being consulted.

So the report of Kobe Bryant’s reaction to the Lakers being on the verge of hiring former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, from Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated, says a lot about how this decision was made. And maybe about how it will be received in the locker room.

The source close to the Lakers told SI.com that Lakers star Kobe Bryant was “surprised” by the news, and that he was not a part of the decision-making process. Bryant had been a staunch supporter of Lakers assistant Brian Shaw for the position and remains as such.

We should note that saying Kobe is surprised is different than saying he is unhappy with the decision. It also doesn’t mean he will not be spoken to before ink hits paper on the deal. Still, he was not in the loop on the process. How he buys in will go a long way to determining Brown’s success.

Shaw represented the Lakers continuing with a similar style — of offense, of coaching — that they had under Phil Jackson.

Jim Buss and the Lakers brass clearly wanted a change in that. Brown is a big shift, an attempt to change the direction of the ship.

The question is how well that will work.

The Lakers don’t really need an Xs and Os guru — they have a lot of high basketball IQ players with Kobe, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Derrick Fisher, Andrew Bynum and on down the line. They have guys who know how to play, whatever the system.

What Jackson was able to do brilliantly was get those guys to play as a unit, to sacrifice, to win together. (Up until this season, when fatigue of mind, body and the message wore them down.) Can Mike Brown do that? He can bring in energy and push a defense-first agenda, but can he get them to bond and play as a unit the way Jackson has done (and did in Chicago before)?

That is the real question and the real risk with this hire.

Lakers to hire Mike Brown to be coach

Cleveland Cavilers v Boston Celtics

UPDATE #3 9:55 am: By the morning, pretty much everyone with an NBA source has confirmed this. The Lakers are going to make an offer to Mike Brown, maybe for three, maybe for four years. The only potential catch is that it is not really going to be a negotiation, if he doesn’t take the offer the Lakers will move on to Rick Adelman.

UPDATE #2, 1:11 am: Mike Brown has pulled himself out of the running for the Golden State Warriors job because he is about to be hired by the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area. He quotes several league sources as saying that Brown will be named as the Lakers coach.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo adds that the two sides may have worked out the money issue, with Brown getting a four-year deal at more than $4 million per year.

It appears this will become official later on Wednesday.

UPDATE May 25, 12:23 am: Money is the issue holding everything up, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com, who says that Rick Adelman is still in the running due to money.

As PBT told you on Tuesday, the Lakers are holding firm on salary and will not go above $5 million a season. Brown wants to make more in the Doc Rivers range of $7 million a season, Aldridge reports. If he will not agree to the lower salary, the Lakers will move on.

While the Lakers have spent big on coaching during the Phil Jackson era, prior to that Buss was known for trying not to pay much for coaches. Remember he pulled Pat Riley out of the broadcast booth, in part because he would not have cost as much as some veteran coaches.

May 24, 11:17 pm: Mike Brown, the former Cleveland Cavaliers coach during much of their LeBron James era, may be the coach Lakers owner Jerry Buss was talking about when he said they were close to signing a new coach.

Brown and the Lakers are in serious talks, according to Marc Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo. As in the deal could be reached in the next 24-48 hours serious, the report says. Not finalized but this seems to be the direction things are going.

Brown is edging out current Lakers assistant Brian Shaw and veteran coach Rick Adelman to replace the legendary Phil Jackson.

That scream you just heard was from terrified Lakers fans.

But they shouldn’t be as scared as they are. First off, Brown is a defense-first coach who got his Cavs teams to play well on that end of the floor. That has always been the key for the Lakers with this roster, how well they played defense. And Brown won more than 60 games as a coach.

But that was not the knock on Brown, it was his offense. Which was always very LeBron James focused, with a lot of isolations for him. It looked stagnant. Thing is, what did you expect him to do? Did you see this season what they had around James? For a long time Brown’s starting backcourt was Eric Snow and Larry Hughes, so yes, he gave the ball to James a lot as a point forward. Even when he had Mo Williams and Delonte West are you going to take the ball out of LeBron’s hands? The Cavs often had the best offense in the league with that latter twosome. And those guys are not exactly all that.

The issue at hand is they are going from a system to a playbook. From a system designed to react to what the defense wants to a more rigid system where the players have less freedom to attack what the defense gives them.

Then there is the respect issue — will Kobe Bryant respect a guy who has not been through the wars and have the titles that these Lakers have. That Shaw has. Even Adelman has had great teams that might have had rings had it not been for Kobe and the Lakers.

Buss said he was not going to consult a player on the hiring of a coach (which is not the tradition, the issue is usually discussed with superstars like Kobe). But Brown seems to be the direction they are going.

Whoever replaces Phil Jackson will make a lot less

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers - Game One

Phil Jackson was the highest paid coach in the NBA. By 100 percent. He was making $12 million a year when no other coach was making more than $6 million. Jackson made about $10 million last season. Technically that’s a pay cut for him, but if my bosses want to cut me back to $10 million this year I’ll go along with it.

You can say that is too much for a coach, but remember two things. First, when Jackson was rehired it was when season ticket holders were up in arms over the Shaq trade and the Rudy T. coaching disaster, Jackson calmed those waters and kept a lot of season ticket holders in the fold. Secondly, he Lakers made a lot of money on deep playoff runs when he was coach. Basically, he is the one coach who may have paid for himself.

The Lakers next coach can’t do that and will take a pay cut accordingly, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The new Lakers coach can expect an annual salary of $3 million to $5 million, according to people who are familiar with what the Buss family is thinking. That is barely half what Jackson made in a best-case scenario for the new hire.

It still projects to an increase from the average NBA head coach salary range of $2 million to $4 million. Candidates for the Lakers job include Rick Adelman, Mike Dunleavy, Jeff Van Gundy, Mike Brown and Lakers assistant Brian Shaw.

This is just one way the Lakers can save money going forward. What they do on the player payroll side of the equation will depend more on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but the Lakers are looking to cut some costs. As the story points out, some annual employees like scouts and trainers have already been cut by the Lakers. They are starting to brace for the lockout. But that is another story.

If it wasn’t for lockout, Phil Jackson might have left earlier

Kobe Bryant And Phil Jackson Address The Media
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Phil Jackson had said that chasing a fourth three-peat played a big role in his return. Talking about himself after the Lakers were eliminated, he made it sound like that competitive fire more than passion for the game brought him back.

But there was another reason — the lockout.

That’s what he told Mark Kriegel (the Barfly) of FoxSports.com in an interesting interview (watch the entire video, good stuff).

“Dr. Buss and I went out to lunch last year during the Phoenix series in the playoffs, and he said ‘With the impending labor disagreement coming up, there are things we have to do as owners that make sense,’” Jackson said. “I said I’m really thinking about retiring now, but if there’s going to be a lockout that’s going to change the complexity, I would consider coming back and coaching another year to carry the team forward to that particular point…

“Everyone is talking about this perhaps lasting the whole year, I don’t want the organization to have to pay a salary for a coach doing nothing. They’ve been really good to me salary wise this whole time, but if I signed a two-year contract then they’d have to pay me.”

The Lakers, like a number of teams, have not retained some personnel that normally would be kept around during the summer — such as parts of the training staff — because they don’t want to pay everyone through an extended lockout.

Coach is a place the Lakers can save money. Phil Jackson was the highest-paid coach in the NBA at about $12 million a year two years ago (twice what any other coach made) although he took a salary reduction last season. If stayed on the payroll, he would have been paid that money through the lockout. Paid to sit on his ranch in Montana. He didn’t want to do that. Owner Jerry Buss didn’t want to do that.

So Jackson returned for one year. Whoever the new coach is — Brian Shaw, Rick Adelman or someone else — they will make less than half of what Jackson made. Another cost savings heading into what could be a protracted labor fight.

Even for the Zen master, money was always a factor.

Don’t count on Byron Scott as next Lakers coach

Cleveland Cavaliers  v Miami Heat
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Byron Scott is a favorite son of Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Scott has openly lusted for the Lakers coaching gig.

The Lakers have an open coaching vacancy, ergo…

No. Don’t go there.

To start with, Scott has a job as the Cavaliers head coach and as the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweeted they are not giving him up.

While B Scott’s name on speculative lists of Lakers coaching candidates, Cavs would not let him go and he has no “out” clause in contract

There is no chance Dan Gilbert would have approved a contract with an out clause to leave his team for a big market power. Think about it. Now, theoretically anything has its price, if the Lakers had some players/picks the Cavs wanted. But, if you think Jerry Buss is giving up future player assets to get a coach, well, I wouldn’t play poker against the man if I were you. (Same goes for his son Jim, who also will be big on this call.)

What’s more, Scott is just not a good fit as a coach, period.

Scott’s system is point guard dependent — he has looked good with Jason Kidd in his prime and Chris Paul — but this would mean an overhaul of the Lakers roster in a big way we’re not sure the Lakers want to make.

Then, if they did hire him, Lakers fans could start the wait for inevitable mutiny of the players to Scott — it happened in New Jersey quite publicly and was part of the reason for his dismissal in New Orleans. Scott is not a long-term answer, if they brought him back they’d just be trying to sell the memories of Showtime again for a few years.