Around the World (Wide Web)

Phillip Barnett —  May 26, 2011

From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: The Southland is still buzzing after the news that Mike Brown will succeed Phil Jackson as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. A surprising hire, to say the least, and also one relatively unfamiliar with Lakers fans, since Brown has only been a head coach in the Eastern Conference. Obviously, there are questions, and we’re trying to provide as many answers as possible.  Earlier, we got some insight from John Krolik, host of “Cavs The Blog (True Hoop network). After, we talked to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst, who covers the Miami Heat for the Heat Index. Before taking his talents to South Beach, Windhorst spent several seasons covering the Cavaliers for The Cleveland Plain Dealer. During that time, he got to know Brown well as both a coach and a person.  Windhorst was very candid pointing out Brown’s strengths and weaknesses — no punches were pulled about the necessary likelihood of hiring an offensive coordinator — but made it abundantly clear how much he respects the Lakers’ new coach. Here are some excerpts of our conversation with Windhorst, which can be heard in its entirety by clicking on the module to the right.

From Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: Since the Lakers fell apart against the Mavericks in this year’s playoffs, it has been impossible to imagine anyone who could beat the expectations that come with that job at this moment. Filling Phil Jackson’s shoes is one of the smaller challenges. The team has hitched its wagon to a “lead by example” leader, in Kobe Bryant, who not only no longer practices, but also has declining efficiency and a tendency to remind his teammates, publicly, that he will continue to shoot more than them regardless.  The best young player and hope for the future, Andrew Bynum, is bitter about team dynamics. The team’s other star, Pau Gasol, has descended into various stages of sulking and huffiness. Also on the roster: Some of the nuttier forces in sports in Ron Artest and Matt Barnes, to go with nice guy — but literal “walking reality show” — Lamar Odom.

From Royce Young, Daily Thunder: Sometimes, it just doesn’t even seem fair. Or meant to be. Or both. First, I can’t tell you how proud I am of this Thunder team. To come back with that effort in those circumstances… inspiring. They were ready to go from the tip, ready to fight. I think even us fans were sort of ready to pack it in after Game 4?s crushing defeat. I wouldn’t have blamed the team for just going through the motions, for just showing up. I kind of felt like cheering through the motions. Despite trying to talk myself out of it, the mountain the Thunder had to climb was too steep and the cruelty of Game 4 too fresh. But with their hands on another win — I mean, they were right there — the final few minutes doomed the Thunder. Scott Brooks pulled out all the stops. Russell Westbrook absolutely busted his butt. Nick Collison did his Nick Collison thing. Kevin Durant, Eric Maynor, everyone, put in the work. Losing a seven-point fourth quarter lead makes me want to belly-flop into an empty pool, but sometimes, it’s just not your time. It’s Dirk’s time. It was just meant to be for the Mavs.

From Alex Groberman, Opposing Views: According to a statement issued by the Los Angeles Lakers, they have reached an agreement with ex-Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown to fill the void left by the departure of Phil Jackson. The deal, reportedly, is slated to earn Brown approximately $18 million over four years with the last year being an option. As speculation ran rampant that Rick Adelman, Mike Dunleavy or Brian Shaw were the heavy favorites to win the L.A. head coaching job, Brown flew in under the radar and stole the position with a strong interview, sources indicate. That coupled with the team’s emphasis on finding a coach on the cheap as part of their new cost-cutting initiative sealed the deal for the former Coach of the Year. “We’ve met with Mike and are very impressed with him,” said a statement issued by the Lakers. “In addition, we have an outline for an agreement in place and hope to sign a contract within the next few days.”

From Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports: The idea that Kobe Bryant would’ve ever called LeBron James for a confidential scouting report on Mike Brown is sheer fantasy. They don’t share much of a relationship, and even less a common interest in fortifying each other with the best possible coach for a championship chase. Why would they trust each other’s referrals? James wants the Los Angeles Lakers to fail, just as Bryant does the Miami Heat. For Bryant, there was never time to consider Brown’s candidacy as Lakers coach because sources close to him say that he was never asked about the candidates to replace Phil Jackson. The Buss family promised they would proceed this way, without the consultation of the most important person in the franchise.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: I’m not thrilled with the Lakers’ decision … scratch that … Jim Buss’ decision to hire Mike Brown as the new Lakers’ coach because of all the “con” reasons I highlight in this item I posted earlier. It’s clear that the Lakers wanted to move in a  new direction away from  Phil Jackson’s leadership, but it’s quite striking that an early playoff exit suddenly ruined Shaw’s chances. Although the Lakers never had any formalized agreement of any sort, it had always been presumed that Shaw would have succeeded Jackson because of his long familiarity with the triangle and his strong relationship with the players. Instead, the Lakers suddenly are going in a completely different direction. It’s not always bad to start something new, and it’s clear by the way things ended in the Lakers’ 2011 Western Conference semifinals sweep to the Dallas Mavericks that Jackson had lost his effectiveness with the team. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to completely start from scratch. It’d be one thing if Shaw was passed up in favor of Rick Adelman because of Shaw’s lack of head coaching experience;  Adelman’s corner offense bears some familiarity with the triangle. But I’m not convinced Brown will be able to squeeze championships out of this current roster because there’s too much of an adjustment period. The Lakers have taken pride in having great success with taking risky decisions that work out in the end. I don’t believe, however, that this is one of them.

Phillip Barnett

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22 responses to Around the World (Wide Web)

  1. The coming of Mike Brown to the Lakers is like the hiring of a new super Sales Manager in a company. He just dislodged a lot of qualified aspirants and the expectations for him to excel are high. If he was successful at Spurs and Cavs, well he is now dealing with a premier Company. After the lockout period, if MB can accomplish majority of these tasks, then he improves his acceptance barometer with the disjointed audiences. The following are: a). Make Gasol a real power forward, at least 25% improvement of what he is capable of in defensive assignments such as: grabbing rebounds, boxing-out and defending his post; b) Ask Odom to shelve-out that reality tv and concentrate more on honing skills from free throws, defense and perimeter shooting; c) Convince Artest to focus more on basketball after spending time on p/r tweeting, rap music jocks and many more other things. Artest should be the Laker wall as the last stand for defense. d). MB biggest concern will be a smooth communication with Mamba to adhere to a well-knit court management in a teamwork setting. He should trust his teammates more as he wields effectively his valued leadership as the Superstar; e). Bynum’s workout during off season and lockout period will be also included in MB’s concern. Because the team’s success in domination of the post rests on Bynum’s health. He should improve his leg conditioning while harneshing his skills in a transition basketball that requires a lot of running. f) Get/Trade for a speedy and a streaky shooter PG, if it doesn’t happen, then convince Fisher to lead the 2nd unit while promoting Blake or Lamar as PG.

  2. Uprooted Adam in Boston May 26, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Well, we know this: Coach Brown is well spoken. My knee jerk reaction was “What? Why him?” But after thinking about it now, this is the new NBA. Coaches in their 40s. We can’t expect Larry Brown or Pat Riley types to endure the rigors and new culture of coaching. So why not Brown?

    I absolutely love his emphasis on defense, and am actually optimistic about the team’s chances next year.

  3. J.D. Hastings May 26, 2011 at 10:31 am

    When did Jon Barry become a Nosferatu?

  4. Wow… Max Kellerman is making a great point right now on 570. “Kobe is slipping amd Gasol is soft. In the playoffs the Lakers were at their best when Bynum was the number one option. Bynum will be better next season… If Kobe takes another small step back will Mike Brown be able to tell Kobe he isn’t getting the ball as often? Remember Kobe just said Bynum has to fall in line behind himself and Gasol.” But to be fair even Phil Jackson probably wouldn’t be able to make Kobe a number two option.

  5. I am reaching out to our overseas FBGer’s….If we are successful getting Messina to be an assisitant coach, can folks share insights on his style and schemes? Thanks

  6. Kobe is certainly on the (hopefully long) downward arc of his career, but he’s still a guy who played through injuries for 82 games and averaged 25 points a game, while leading the team in assists. Anyone who thinks he wasn’t the best player on the Lakers, by a wide margin, wasn’t watching all the games.

    Can Kobe still be the #1 option on a championship team? I don’t see why not. Can Andrew Bynum? Hmm.

  7. #2

    That’s precisely the reaction of the majority “Why him?”. Of course, we are anticipating for changes, discipline on defense but we also know the bulging egos in this team. Like what Aaron said, making Kobe as #2 in the go-to-guy, well it requires a lot of selling that new method. He is willing to accept that role as long as Bynum & Gasol could really do their tasks efficiently. It all comes down on winning games, winning will overshadow those egos.

  8. How about we throw ideas of “pecking order” and “number one options” out the window. Miami is showing how to use the combination of your talents to overpower the opponent. Some nights the Lakers may need to ride Bynum. Other nights it will be Gasol. And Kobe is still good for being the man on other nights. It’s about what is best for beating the opposition on any given night.

    As long as they are here, Kobe and Derek will be the leaders of this team. That is never in question. But they don’t have to be the central guys on the floor every night. All this kind of talk does is get the old “whose team is it?” conversation going again. That conversation is unproductive and downright divisive. A clear perspective of the big picture is good for all involved.

  9. Funky Chicken May 26, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Brown’s emphasis on defense is going to result in the Lakers scoring a lot more points in transition than they did under Phil Jackson.

    I think this is actually a great move, and precisely because it does seem to be a slap in Kobe’s face. Emphasis on defense and effort is not something that can be said is Kobe’s mindset these days (notwithstanding his totally undeserved all-defensive team selection). Team first is also not something that comes naturally to Kobe, but something that this team desperately needs.

    I expect Kobe to have a somewhat difficult time adjusting to Mike Brown (as he would any of the possible successors to Jackson not named Brian Shaw), but I suspect that Kobe’s teammates will thrive under this new coach. If last year (or, for that matter, the previous year’s game 7) is any indication, the Lakers will go only as far as the supporting cast, not Kobe, takes them, and Mike Brown has a strong record of getting the most out of supporting casts.

  10. How does Fish fit into the equation on the offensive side of the ball? The triangle has been a great system to mask the athletic limitations of point guards who are on the decline (Fish, Harper, Shaw). But without the triangle, will Fish be exposed a bit more?? Does he even start?

  11. J.D. Hastings May 26, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I’m sure this has already been linked to, but these interviews with Phil Jackson and Jeannie Buss are enlightening: http://msn.foxsports.com/video/shows/barfly?vid=679206ca-2089-4b5f-a585-57e7a8992d81&from=en-us_msnhp

  12. Maybe we may see more of Fisher at the 2 guard? Otherwise, it’s going to be painful seeing Fisher out there at the PG spot.

    I’m so over this “Buss/Mike Brown need to kiss Kobe’s ring” talk. Kobe, if we forget, is an employee of the Lakers. Would it have been prudent to tell Kobe of their interest to hire Brown? Sure. But if at this stage of his career, Kobe can’t adjust to a new coach, then that is pathetic. We are not talking about some 23 year old star neophyte. And Kobe has less than 5 years of being in the top 15-20 players in the NBA, so why would he waste his precious remaining time BMWing about this?

    I am really looking forward to Brown developing our rookies and Ebanks. Rookies under Phil are largely thrown to the trash heap. But imagine Brown working with Ebanks! The kid, with right coaching, can be a defensive stopper. Also, since it appears that we will be drafting a bunch of players with our 4 2nd round picks, if they make the team, I feel that Brown did a better job developing young talent (maybe we also keep Trey Johnson)?

    After a night of sleep, I feel better about the pick. I’m only concerned about the Jim Buss power trip. We shall see.

  13. There was a report, Lakers didn’t talk to Aldeman or Jeff Van Gundy, i was surprised. Mike Brown impressed Jim Bus in Minnesota with defensive scheme (against which NBA team ?). If MB hires Messina, Lakers will play Euro style of basketball ? We’ll find out.

  14. 12. “Mike Brown wants to stop the Miami dynasty as much as Dan Gilbert, as much as Kobe Bryant.”

    I don’t think Whitlock understands the meaning of the word “dynasty.” Were the Bills in their Super Bowl years a Dynasty? Were the Phoenix Suns in their 2000′s heyday a dynasty? Not only do you have to win to be a dynasty, you have to win multiple/consecutive titles. Let’s Let the Heat win at least one before we even consider trotting out the word “dynasty.”

    As to Whitlock’s point, I think it is an easy psycholigization of what is surely a more nuanced and complicated relationship and motivation for M. Brown with respect to Lebron and the Heat.

  15. #16. Whitlock. Meh. He’s one of the very popular columnists that I feel is so popular because of his ability to stir the pot, not because he’s overly insightful.

  16. Some people get confused over the concept of the leader/”alpha dog” and the number one option on offense. They don’t have to be the individual. Kobe can be the “alpha dog” and not be the focal point of the offense.

  17. #15

    There was even a report that the elder Buss preferred another coach and just waiting for the playoffs to wind up when suddenly Jimbo pushed the hiring of Mike in order to beat the Warriors. Essentially, the younger Buss was super excited with the first interview of Mike presenting the so-called defense oriented Lakers. I’m just guessing, maybe MB painted also a rosy picture where he’ll put there Bynum as the focal point in everything, as such Jimbo was 100% agreeable. The frenzied decision making is like the excitement of a 10 year old boy to go to Disneyland now while ignoring parents plans for the 3 day weekend.

  18. This sums up Messina´s philosophy pretty well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkNQG8On90c&feature=related

  19. Great analogy Edwin.

  20. Great! I found this post that I wanted to come back to, I remember it having many links from the commenter’s, heck there is even a great one right in the post itself. The link from MdT of Ettore Messina was good, looks like he would be a good assistant coach, who does not believe in complicated systems. The links of J.D. Hastings and Aaron are very good also. FB&G is the type of site that I find myself wandering back in time, here and there.