Fast Break Thoughts

Darius Soriano —  May 30, 2011

*We’ve been wondering who Mike Brown will fill out his staff with and we may just start to get some answers. Marc Stein and Ric Bucher are reporting that former assistant under Brown in Cleveland and current head coach in Detroit, John Kuester may be let go by the Pistons. This latest report coming on the heels of one stating that if Kuester shakes free from Detroit, Brown would like to add him to his staff with the Lakers.

I have mixed feelings about this potential hire. On the one hand, Kuester’s been a disaster as a head coach with the Pistons. The players deserved a lot of blame for how they acted out with him in charge, but Kuester can’t be absolved for his flap with Rip Hamilton or his general lack of control over his team. On the other hand, some coaches are better as assistants (Del Harris comes to mind) and find it easier to work as a secondary coach without being responsible for managing the entire team. Kuester has been credited with improving the Cavs offense to the point that they became a top 5 team on that side of the ball, but at least some of that improvement could also be attributed to improved personnel. In the end, we’ll see if Kuester is let go from Detroit and ends up joining the Lakers but this would be a hire in which whatever trust (or lack of) you have in Brown will be tranferred onto this hire. Since I’m in a wait and see mode with Brown, I’d give Kuester the same courtesy.

*Speaking of the Cavs offense under Brown and Kuester, Sebastian Pruiti has a must read post on the topic at NBA Playbook. Pruti takes a hard look at how the Cavs used LeBron, then explores if some of these same sets will work for Kobe. As usual, this is excellent work that you need to read.

*The more and more I hear actual NBA players or coaches talk about Mike Brown, the more I hear he’s a very good coach. The latest player doing the talking is Mo Williams, having sat with the Kamenetzky brothers on ESPN Radio this past Saturday. A lot of what Williams said mirrors what Trey Johnson said which mirrors what many others have said that have actually worked with Brown or observed him first hand. And while all of this positivity towards the man could just be the contrarian response to initial wave of negative backlash, I’m still of the mind that Brown needs to be given a chance to succeed or fail. There’ll be plenty of time to judge his performance based off the results.

*Moving away from the Lakers, the Finals start tomorrow and I’m still torn on who I’m picking but am leaning towards Miami. With Haslem back and Miller starting to make some plays off the dribble to compensate for his struggles from the outside, the Heat are a much more complete team. I also think this is a series where Bosh can have a huge impact on both sides of the ball. If the Mavs put Dirk on him, Bosh can really attack him and try to wear him out on that side of the ball. If the Mavs put Chandler on him, Bosh can pull the Mavs’ best paint protector away from the rim, which in turn can make it easier on Wade/LeBron when they drive. On defense, Bosh is a good match up for Dirk (though he’s been destroying everyone) and showed good D in P&R situations in the past couple of series. If Bosh can limit Dirk in either isolation or P&R situations, the Mavs job is going to be that much harder.

*Finally, I hope everyone enjoys their Memorial Day by getting to eat some good BBQ and just relax. And while this day has nothing to do with remembering great Laker moments, I’m going to do that anyway by taking you back to one of my favorite playoff series ever, the 1987 Finals. Enjoy these top 10 moments from that series while you devour some ribs.

Darius Soriano

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  1. Darius, better that video than the “Memorial Day Massacre!”

    Good God that one is still hard to stomach!

    As for Kuester, someone needs to point out what was the genesis of the whole mutiny the Pistons had against him. Maybe that will make more sense as to why the players went against him in Detroit.

    If he’s a potential member of the Lakers staff, we need to know.



  2. I think that the general dislike some people have for LeBron is unfairly affecting their opinion of Brown.


  3. Thanks for those highlights – with Scott, Worthy, and Cooper, that was a very athletic team.

    I wonder if Worthy’s foot was on the line on that save? Thank goodness they didn’t have instant replay then!


  4. We have to remember what it would take to come out of no where and get one of the best coaching jobs in all of sports. Based on that thought consider this.

    The Lakers as an organization understand what it is all about. Sure, there was some trepidation about the facing the future without the great Phil Jackson and eminent but needed change. But the Lakers braintrust seemed to have had a list of qualified candidates and a collective mindset to affect a “new direction”.

    So, enter Mike Brown and he is given a chance to interview for what has to be a “dream job” for any coach and KABOOM!
    He lands the job…why? Because here was a man that came prepared for the job opportunity of his lifetime and he impressed one of the greatest franchises in all of professional sports. Give Mike Brown some credit folks because what he had and seems to have is a vision and concept of what he could do with this team. Clearly, he must have imparted to the Lakers Braintrust that he “gets it” and the importance of that cannot be underestimated when you become the Lakers head coach. Mike Brown was mentored by Coach Pop, coached in the finals with LeBron so he has had some exposure to key factors that the Lakers would look for. Understanding, managing and coaching a team for a winning sports organization with consistent championship expectations. Secondly, coaching a team with a great player and being able to make deep playoff runs with that team using your best players strengths. He did it in Cleveland with LeBron and a bunch of less than average players at best.

    The consensus is that this guy can coach and it seems that he may have really grown and matured as a head coach from the Cleveland experience. There is no doubt that he is a “good communicator” and that players like this guy. He is going to need every bit of what he has learned and those communications skills…welcome to “The Lake Show” baby!

    P.S. The last guy to come to town with a vision/plan to coach in Los Angeles won “Two National Titles” and tons of BCS Bowl games!


  5. Funky Chicken May 30, 2011 at 11:02 am

    After suffering through 3 and a half minutes of horrible commentary by two of the worst announcers in NBA history, that video ends beautifully with the voice of the greatest.


  6. #4

    That is also true, at this point let us all learn to accept MB and Jimbo as they are and move on. Whatever troubled waters in the past, it’s now under the bridge and going through the flow. In legal terms, Mike Brown is not the Laker coach yet because the contract has not been signed, however based on interviews and publications, it is good as done.

    It is also a fact that there are so many things to be clarified: 1) What happened to to Ronnie Lester and other scouts that includes Bill Berthka, Rudy T. (that’s how he was classified after quitting as a head coach), Vlade Divac? How can they continue recruiting the draft picks without scouts? Will they also terminate Mychal Thompson as the ESPN radio analyst, it was reported that he accepted a job in a Portland radio station? How about Laker PR, John Black, or the longtime equipment mgr., Rudy Garcidunez and trainer, Gary Vitti, will they still be with the Lakers? 2) Jimbo also mentioned that 7 or 8 players will be protected, do we include here Ebanks, Trey Johnson and Caracter as part of the 8 players? Jimbo said that he wants the Lakers to be athletic and young. Therefore, the probable changes will only be confined with one year contracts like Josh Smith and Theo Ratliff. Shannon Brown has the option to test the market. 3) Will the Lakers sell again their four 2nd round draft picks during the lottery 4) Is there a chance for the Lakers to add in their roster via trade marquee player like Dwight, Deron or Chris or MLE, bi-Ann, exercise Trade Exceptions the addition of F/A’s? If not, how are they going to increase speed and athleticism with the “as-is” presence of Fisher, Walton, Blake, Artest, Bynum and Gasol?

    If Mike and Jim want to connect with Laker fans at this early stage, they have to address these concerns, Season ticket holders and club owners may want to know the composition of the product before renewing contracts too? The fans at large are also interested because they also purchase cable services either with FSNW or Time Warner? Yes, it’s all business, they’re in charge and we’re not part of the management, however they also have to promote the product and its changes.


  7. Great video Darius, yeah the Magic skyhook and the Worthy baseline running save, along with how he was holding Bird’s jersey to not let him go, are all great moments of this Finals and how is used to be. LordMo, that is a good way to look at the Brown hiring.


  8. At this point, what else is there to say about Mike Brown.

    He wasn’t my first choice (Adelman), but the Lakers are obviously looking long term with him.

    I get the hate, don’t think it is deserved though.

    We just have to wait and see what he can do with the keys to the Ferrari.

    There is no reason why even if *I* were coaching, this team can’t have a great record. This is not a lottery type team.

    Just a matter of time if Brown can take them where Phil couldn’t anymore.



  9. Tommy Heinsohn’s voice is still painful to hear: its akin to someone dragging me across a broken glass patch and dunking me in a salt water jacuzzi!

    Always good to hear the great C Hearn! Chick, would have maligned the entire team and coaches for the approach they took to this season! From PJ’s answers to the press after each loss, such as, is it June yet? Well, its not June yet and the Lakers have not been relevant in the playoffs since May 8th 2011, but I digress!

    Good memories, the Coop-a-Loop, the baby hook, Worthy taking 3 steps on his hook/finger rolls!


  10. Ah, the ’87 Finals. People almost never remember this (no clips in this highlight package!) but Kareem had just an unbelievable performance in the closeout game 6, probably the last truly dominating game of his career.

    He kept the Lakers in the game in the first half when Magic was in foul trouble, and then buried the Celtics in the second half, making Parish look helpless. He had an and-1 on a baseline sky hook that basically iced the season.

    32 points, at age 40, against a Hall of Fame front line. Yeah.


  11. That video was AWESOME! Oh great memories…Thanks


  12. jodial (10)
    Just one more example of why Kareem is clearly the greatest player of all time in the NBA.


  13. 9) I miss Hearn’s voice too, and everything else about him. He was a kind of ballast, through both good and bad times.

    Darius – I’m going with Dallas. Carlisle’s at the top of his game as a coach, he’s got the team’s confidence. Their bench is playing well and they’re hitting their outside shots. Miami’s got the firepower and can absolutely dominate at a given moment but Dallas is playing smart and playing consistently.


  14. 2) ex,
    I think you’re right about LeBron affecting opinion about Brown – I know that it plays into my own feelings. I can try and look at the game logically and sometimes I succeed, but just as often, emotion and even bias plays a part. I will freely admit that my reaction to Brown’s hiring is as much about other factors as it is about him. I see Brown through the prism of the Lakers’ past decade and with a disappointment that so much is being summarily dismissed. I think back to the sweeping changes that happened after the loss to Detroit in the ’04 finals – I thought that clearinghouse mentality was reactive rather than targeting what had gone wrong. And now, it feels (to me) as if that knee-jerk philosophy is being revisted… and I add certain misgivings about Brown and most certainly overreact.

    I apologize for going on at such length. I admire those who are willing to take a positive and hopeful approach. It’s really the best way to go.

    I’m going to make an effort to be less reactionary but it may be for naught. I tend to latch onto things and bleed them dry. Anybody who’s read my blog knows that it seldom comes with objectivity.


  15. 14) dave m…

    Not so fast my friend! Give the Lakers some credit. In ’04 clearly the Shaq/Kobe teams had run their course. The two Superstars were openly feuding. Dropping bombs on each other thru the media. Shaq was in a contract dispute with management that had damaged that relationship. Something had to be done and Shaq was one of my favorite Lakers ever…so it hurt me and I didn’t hold back at the lost. Because I felt that team could have won another title. But the Lakers made the moves needed to win more titles and they always do.

    Clearly, they have a plan of some sort. Sure to us “gutting the organization” might look like the “Great Purge” of the Stalin-era Soviet Union…lol sorry been reading on Trotsky lately. But from a business standpoint it is a brilliant move and if you execute it right you could have an organization that has been remodeled to take advantage of and thrive in what is sure to be a different “NBA” after this process. Super friggin smart if you take that view. I bet you see many more teams use the Lakers as a business model. Look at Riley at Miami. He has positioned his team perfectly with 3 star players locked up to long term deals. They have the core now all they have to do is fine-tune. Same with the Lakers every1. We have a great core with Kobe, Gasol, Bynum and Odom we just need to decide do we fine tune the supporting cast or tweak the core also. My guess is the Lakers are smart enuf to realize they need to do both. This is just the start can’t wait for 2012 and beyond!

    So really, if you truly look at it objectively we fans tend to be the ones with knee-jerk reactions. Again let us give Lakers Braintrust some credit and a little time. This ain’t their first rodeo and we have the banners to prove it!


  16. I think Brown will do just fine. Kobe respects anyone that works hard, and Brown worked under Greg who is yet another coach that Kobe respects.

    Brown also has experience catering to a big ego, and that’s been Phil’s modus operandi in his second stint with the Lakers. Actually the first as well; he lets players create their own pecking order and makes sure he doesn’t upset the boat.

    As for X and O’s, I’m not worried about that at all as I have not much knowledge there myself, and because it seems that the most important quality of a head coach is to not get tuned out.

    Brown will work, as with all new hires, for at least a year or two because he seems to be that kinda rah-rah guy that can get guys going. Not sure how long he can last though, but although the Lakers are looking for a long tenure, our window isn’t that big, so worrying about it is a bit premature.


  17. 15) LordMo,

    I dunno. The following year was pretty much of a disaster and when Phil returned for his second stint, there was a couple years of digging out from bad trades and contracts. I guess maybe it’s just how you look at it. I agree that in general, the organization does what it takes to be extremely competitive. It’s a great franchise and I’ve been a fan for a long, long time. Still, I’m not wild about the hiring of Brown for reasons stated above and in previous threads, am even less thrilled with the prospect of John Kuester and am very much against the firing of Ronnie Lester and a dozen scouts right before the draft.

    But, I’m starting to sound like a broken record and your point is well-taken, we do indeed have the banners.


  18. I’m going to have to figure out the over/under of how many times I’ll be yelling at the TV, tellilng Coach to sit down and let them play.

    I’m already at 50 times with UCLA and Ben Howland…


  19. In the spirit of LA tradition, Coach Brown should reach out the Lakers greats and legends and ask them to help him in his new career. He needs to fraternize and reach out. He can’t just ignore tradition coming in to a new territory as an outsider and change this place overnight. If he’s truly a hard worker, it is best to recognize the institution, its accomplishments and its history. Should he comes here with a mindset that he is an “expert” from the tutelage of Pops, or has coached King James, then he’s inviting disaster at get-go. They are all nothing to the Laker fans and to the winning tradition of purple and gold.


  20. Honestly I feel like a lot of the backlash against Brown was that it was out of the blue and the way in which it was done was such that it was an obvious power-play by Jim Buss – from the rapidity with which Brown was chosen over Shaw (they had obviously already decided against Shaw) to the fact that Kobe wasn’t even told what was going on. It’s that kind of stuff that leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths IMO.

    Of course, there’s also the offensive concerns, but while I initially hated the hire, I’m more lukewarm to it now.


  21. @#19 Edwin, I’m sorry that’s a complete load of hogwash. Sure Brown should be respectful of Laker tradition and talk to people when he can. But to say he should reach out and ask them for help and fraternize? That’s just utter bs.

    Brown should be focusing on getting the best assistants he can get and ones who he feels most comfortable work with that fill in any weaknesses in his skill set. If they happen to have Laker ties, great. But to look at Laker ties first then try to fit them into his coaching is a recipe for failure.

    You’re already setting him up for failure. Just because he doesn’t reach out to Laker legends right away doesn’t mean he has the mindset of being an expert and not needing help.

    Phil brought in his entire staff from Chicago to the Lakers for his first stint and in his second stint, he only added Laker legend Brian Shaw. Wow, that was a huge handicap wasn’t it. Yeah, yeah, Phil had rings.

    What tradition is it exactly that he is suppose to honor that will help him become a better coach.