Stein: Lakers interested in Mike Brown

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Here’s the report, according to the ultra-reliable Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

The Los Angeles Lakers are taking a deliberate approach to their search for a successor to Phil Jackson, but NBA coaching sources told ESPN.com 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.