If you read our links this morning, you’d know that yesterday there was actual happenings with the Lakers outside of the lockout. Announcements were made that the long anticipated hire of John Kuester as lead assistant to Mike Brown is finally done and that Shannon Brown exercised his right to not pick up his player option for next season, thus becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Both moves were expected but now that they’re official, they’re worth further discussion.
First off, the Kuester’s addition is another good add to a staff that already has Ettore Messina behind the bench as a consultant. Kuester is another bright offensive mind with a lot of NBA experience and is known as a good teacher of the game. When you combine Kuester and Messina with the whispers of Chuck Person and Quin Snyder potentially filling out the staff, that’s a strong group of coaches to help Brown run this team.
Obviously, the hire of Kuester doesn’t come without trepidation. His run as a head coach with the Pistons was disastrous with awful results and claims of player mutiny overshadowing the few positives of his tenure. He seemed overwhelmed by the task of running a team but the nail on the head was his inability to relate to the players in a way that seemed to inspire the discontent. This should all matter much less (if at all) with Kuester taking on the role of assistant rather than head man as the task of keeping everyone (both players and coaches) ultimately falls on Mike Brown. But perceptions often endure and Kuester has some ground to make up in the credibility department whether that’s fair or not.
That said, the Lakers are a veteran team of professionals and I expect them to act accordingly. The bigger goal is to win and I expect Kuester to help the team positively in this regard. His comfort level with Mike Brown and the success they’ve shared in the past should create a good foundation for the team and the players to build on. Ultimately, I’m happy that Brown has gotten his guy on his staff so they can proceed with building game plans that are successful.
One player that may not be around to take part in those game plans in Shannon Brown. We’ve discussed the man we’ve called WOW a few times lately and I won’t rehash all those ideas now. But to summarize he’s grown a fair amount as a player with the Lakers and with that growth has come positives and negatives. He’s shown he can impact the game with his athleticism and shot making as well as with his lack of attention to detail.
But now that he’s opted out, the Lakers are in a position where they’ll need a replacement of some sort. Kobe was able to play his fewest minutes since his second season almost primarily because of Shannon’s performance as his back up. With Brown gone, we’re either in for Kobe’s minutes going back up or giving those minutes to one of the other guards/wings on the current roster. And while I’m all for seeing if Barnes, Ebanks, or one of the rookies can step in and play, I’m not for relying on that going into next season. I’m also not for relying on Fisher or Blake picking up minutes as the de-facto back up to Kobe in small line ups.
Of course, there’s still the option that Brown returns as he did before last season when he and the Lakers did this same dance. Mutual interest is natural considering the familiarity between the parties. However, if Brown does leave the Lakers for greener pastures (more money) or a role where he can spread his wings more, back up shooting guard will instantly become a priority for this team.
The problem then becomes forecasting how the Lakers fill that role considering we don’t yet know what rules the league will be operating under. But that’s the nature of this lock out. There will be more questions asked but until there’s an agreement between the players and owners they’ll go unanswered.
In any event, I wish Shannon Brown the best of luck in whatever decision he makes. He made us all stand up and cheer at least once a game with one of his patented high flying moves and showed tremendous growth as a player that few expected anything from when he originally came.