In the Wake of Mike Brown’s Firing…

Darius Soriano —  November 9, 2012

The news came quickly and was unexpected to be sure. Mike Brown has been fired and his replacement will be found over the coming days, seemingly from outside the current coaching staff.

While I’m conflicted about making an in-season change, I do not think this is an overreaction. There have been circumstances that have limited Brown’s success, but this team was underperforming even when accounting for those issues. Brown has shown a rigidity in his lineup choices and has played his stars heavy minutes in the pursuit of wins. Those tactics haven’t born fruit and, as Mitch Kupchak said, judgement comes on wins and losses.

It’s more than the record, however. There simply hasn’t been progress with this team. A crushing win over the Pistons that was fueled by energy and clean execution reverted back to mistake riddled basketball in Utah just two nights later. His rotations moved towards bigger and slower when quicker and smaller are ruling the league. The players were starting to look like ones that lacked belief they could win games once they got behind and considering the talent on this roster that’s a bit shocking.

But, as I said, I’m conflicted with this move even if I understand it to be the correct one. In-season changes are always difficult and will only lead to more adjusting in what is already a topsy-turvy beginning to the campaign. It’s very likely this team sees several mini-peaks and valleys over the coming weeks as energy is poured into games only to have the uncertainty of change once again take hold. Once familiarity is established we should see better results but that was the same perspective from months ago.

Patience will again be key but with the season in full swing that will be harder than ever. We don’t yet even know who the replacement will be so we can’t even begin to speculate how long an adjustment period will be or how capable this group is to adapting to new schemes, personalities, and styles.

I do feel for Brown, however. Many speak of him as some awful coach but he’s been put into some of the most extreme coaching circumstances imaginable and been asked to thrive at the highest level.

Consider the following: he replaced Phil Jackson, had a major trade vetoed, had his best bench player traded, dealt with a lockout that cut training camp down to nothing and shortened time between games for practices, he had a major leader traded at the deadline last year, dealt with injuries to his best players, had a new roster built before his second season, had his brand new franchise player arrive injured and unable to play in games, had his prize point guard break a bone in his leg, and dealt with all of it through evolving offensive systems where continuity and chemistry matter more than in most systems.

Some of these things he brought on himself. Not all of them, however.

I often said that I don’t envy Brown and the issues he’s faced but that I also know that this is the job he signed up for. He took the Lakers’ coaching job and all the inherent drama and surplus of expectations that come with that. Sometimes it’s not fair but life isn’t, is it?

I do wish Brown luck down the road. His failings with the Lakers will surely further shape the perception of who he is as a head coach in this league. They’ll see the underperformance of his team, the lack of adjustments, the suspect offensive acumen and will judge him on them. Some of that is certainly fair. But some of that can not be separated from circumstances and it seems doubtful that’s the perspective people will take.

That said, what’s done is done. The Lakers are moving on and looking for the person they think can lead this team to where they want to go. Hopefully, this time they find him.

Darius Soriano

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42 responses to In the Wake of Mike Brown’s Firing…

  1. Well put, Beloved Leader ­čÖé

    I find it curious that the Lakers would fire Brown without having a replacement ready. Coaching staff knows they are all candidates to be moved – how motivated can Bickerstaff be when he knows his days are already numbered?
    Firing this early in the season means they have someone in mind with a fundamentally different (defensive/offensive) system. Else, wouldn’t they have been better off firing Brown after they had finalized a candidate?
    I tend to agree more with Popovich and SVG – the starting 5 didn’t get more than 45 minutes together. I don’t think Brown was given a fair chance – unless of course, Jeanie told Jim that Phil was ready to come back.

  2. I feel horrible for Brown. I really believe that he was never the the right coach for a team with the personalities, expectations and gravitas of the Lakers from the start, so I feel almost as if the FO has to share the majority of the blame here because I think he was set up for failure from the beginning.

    In terms of where we go from here, I’m not sure who would be a suitable replacement. I don’t my comment to get blocked for speculation, so I will only say that I think it will be very hard to find the right coach that can bring this team together with no training camp and with all of our new pieces.

  3. Well balanced and fair take Darius – but considering he’s taking home about 10 million in guaranteed salary, I don’t feel to bad for him. It was just a bad fit from the start. As for other coaches in the league saying it was unfair – I don’t think any of them would be complaining if there was a chance they’d be considered for a replacement. Brown will get another asst. job someplace else and will get another chance.

  4. Mike Brown is more of an assistant than head coach… but if the Lakers players were as good as many thought they were they would win more than one game in thirteen (against the worst team in the NBA) with a monkey on the bench. Bringing in Phil Jackson who I believe is already set to replace Mike Brown won’t solve Dwight Howard’s new grounded game, it wont make Pau Gasol the player he once was, it won’t turn back Nash’s clock, and it wont add talent to the Lakers bench. I think this team will be much better with Phil Jackson in Dwight’s high chair… but even with Dwight getting back to 100% I see this team falling short in the Finals against the Heat.

  5. Brown was certainly dealt a tough deck but I don’t feel sorry for him. He was paid to do the job and failed (and made $11 mil just for being fired.

  6. Kobe on FB:
    “Tough day. I’ve seen coaches as well as friends come and go. No matter how many years I’ve been playing, it’s still hard to deal with. I had a good relationship with Mike and I will continue to have one. I wish him and his family nothing but the best. I spoke with him today and thanked him for all of his hard work and sacrifice. As a team, we must focus our energy on tonight’s game. We must block out the weight of today’s news and simply do our jobs to the best of our ability. I’m not sure what direction we are heading in next. All I can do is focus on the here and now”

    To me, that doesn’t sound like someone who had input into the decision, or a clear idea of who is riding in on a white horse…

  7. That is why I love the lakers. They cut their losses and move on! Brown is not a bad coach, just more suitable for young teams that are trying to develop players.

    Watching how Mitch maneuvers trades. I think he has got some prime candidate in his pocket. Lakers will bring in the new coach as if they have done the search after the Brown firing, when in effect, Mitch has pretty much secured a new coach, before he did the firing. Mitch has learned well from his master, Jerry West, the legend.

  8. Brown’s a great guy he just wasn’t consistent and failed to win over the fans. He didn’t bring the defense we expected but took all the shots fired at him on the chin and was a trooper. Nothing but respect for him. Read an article that said he stayed at the Lakers facility all night after the Utah loss and slept on an air mattress. That’s dedication should be respected.

    Now trade steve blake!! j/k. only halfway

  9. Don’t think it’s going to matter that much. Hindsight is perfect of course, but this roster is a disaster. I’m not even sure Dwight is the best center in Los Angeles right now. Bench is a wreck (how did Jamison average 17+ last season!), and the defense is weak. Kudos to Kobe for not contributing overtly to this train wreck and letting it play out instead. Good luck to Mike Brown, good guy, wrong team…

  10. To any_one_mouse:
    `beloved leader┬┤! very funny! and thanks for posting Mamba┬┤s quote;
    it seems to me to be the best take on this situation-
    Let┬┤s get a W tonight!

  11. I am ready for the next chapter, I had a feeling the ride this year was going to be a rough one before the season started. I find it totally obsurd for fans to believe that the FO fired Brown with no coach in their back pocket. They didnt just wake up this morning and decide he was finish, this has been in the making for sometime now. You dont let Drew go, get an indecisive free agent superstar to replace him, just to wait around and see what happens hoping for the best. The FO has proven that they play chess, not checkers. The sooner the better, more time to get this thing back on track to make a run.

  12. People who keep saying that Pau is done or Nash is too old obviously didnt watch the summer olympics or last season at all. Pau played great this summer and Nash isnt injury prone despite having a bad back. All the laker starters complement each other well. They just need the right offence.

  13. I don’t think the firing reflects well on the FO. And it certainly revives the criticisms of Jr. made earlier. So much for the “collective soul!” If you’re a player on the Lakers, it certainly makes you wary of what is truth and what is a pr move. Not a great first impression for Nash or Howard.

    I would like to think they have a coach in mind, but if they actually interviewed everyone (including Shaw) the first time, maybe they would not be in this situation.

    The criticisms of Brown are right, but I don’t think this was the way to do it. We blew 2 games against OKC. It wasn’t Brown who lost those games. We had them and the players blew it.

  14. @milesaugust jamison scored 17ppg last season because he was utilized correctly…playing to your players individual strengths, weaknesses and blending them together on the court as one…as a team…is a hard job but its the coaches job & brown never came close…metta over meeks as back up 2? how in the world is that utilizing talent correctly? thats one example over many…remember the dfish and blake back court? his time was up

  15. Aaron,

    You called the Lakers the “perfect” team last season and guaranteed a championship. Since than, the Lakers have upgraded at PG and center, along with a healthier Artest, found a backup SG for Kobe, and will presumably upgrade at coaching as well. Why the sudden gloomy outlook? Is someone still bitter about trading Bynum?

  16. Darius – Nice work here and PBT on this. As usual, you’re spot on. One thing that isn’t being talked about though now is team chemistry. I really think that not having a coach right now isn’t the worst thing in the world. The team is going to have to learn real quickly to lean on one another in completely new ways. They’re veteran laden and without a coach, I see this team really bonding quickly. And that trust for another will be solid come playoff time, yes playoffs. Whoever the new coach, he can ride that chemistry by providing a system the team will buy in to. Aren’t all the best Lakers seasons the ones with the most drama, haha. Keep up the great work!

  17. Yes Brown was fired this early but Lakers suffered four losses. That’s important when you get to last month of the season in resting players, in cramming for a win in order to go up in seeding plus the Laker pride that I have been talking about from day 1 of the Preseason. Lakers are a proud team with a great brand in basketball. You cannot put the fans into a roller coaster feeling of getting Nash, getting Dwight exporting Bynum then suddenly lose 12 games. That’s un-Lakerlike and nobody is indispensable if you muddied the Laker brand. Fans here pay the price but they are always high, if you don’t win you’d never last long whatever your name is? Other than that, Brown is a happy, amiable person who can be a friend of everybody except handling a great responsibility.

    Supposing it was not Brown and the coach was Rambis with 1-12 record, he would get the ax in the same manner. Our brand is equivalent to our national flag, you got to protect it at all times.

    Btw, what does Kareem say about Brown’s firing?

  18. I agree with the previous post that both Gasol and Nash are far from washed up. After all, Gasol is still only 32, and was outstanding in the Olympics this past summer.

    However, both are being mis-utilized at present, being forced into roles outside their comfort zones.

    Nash needs to be given free rein to run the offense and create for other people. And Pau needs to be the low post focal point of the offense. Of course, even should a new offense now be implemented, that’s not going to happen as long as Howard is here.

    Way back before all the personnel moves happened this summer, I advocated trading Bynum for a young, talented athletic wing, and then moving Pau back to center, where he mostly played on their two championship runs. I still think that was the way to go – particularly if Howard walks after this year.

  19. Good riddance. Guy never should have been hired in the first place. The things he did (Weird rotations, playing guys out of position, long practices,etc) may have somewhat worked in Cleveland. But they fizzled out, and look what happened here.

  20. LT Mitchell:

    Not Bynum. Aaron is still upset about Goudelock, who the Lakers are now ‘hiding’ in the unemployment line.

    Let’s hope for a championship-level coach to go along with this (yes, absolutely) championship level roster and start righting the ship!

  21. I was a Mike Brown fan and thought he did pretty well last year considering the circumstances. However this decision had to be made. It was obvious this team didn’t believe in Mike Brown’s offensive and defensive system and when that happens things can fall apart quickly even for a team as talented as the Lakers.

    I think the next shoe to drop is moving Pau Gasol. I love Pau but it’s time for a frest start and I don’t think Gasol fits into the Lakers medium and long term plans (especially if we get Mike D’Antoni). Dwight Howard is a underrated passer and Steve Nash is Steve Nash, what this team desperately needs now is shooters and if Gasol has to go to get that then so be it.

  22. Lakers never had a deep rotation. It was always top heavy even during the title runs. What made them serviceable was coaching. You put players in the right parts that would allow the team to succeed. Phil brought LO off the bench knowing that besides Odom, you had scrubs. Think back. Who was a star talent from those benches? Farmar? Shannon Brown? Radmanovic? Mbenga? hobbled Bynum? Can you even remember the other guys on that team? But he got them to do their jobs. They’re nba level talents and they know how to play ball. You start screwing with the rotations and moving them into slots they aren’t suited for and you deserve to be canned.

    A coach is suppose to look at the talent and weaknesses and make a scheme around it. Brown for all his supposed smarts and intelligence did none of that. NBA talent ain’t rocket scientist. They do things by pure reaction and muscle memory. Thats basically pick and roll. Drive. Cut. Not this fancy Princeton bs. So of course they turn the ball over. They aint’ got a clue what they’re doing on offense. By shear talent alone they can score. Before you say oh look, the triangle. That worked. Remember, they sucked for the first few years in the triangle while learning it. They also had an in his prime kobe to kick them into the playoffs while the triangle sucked ass.

    Completely new team. Make it simple. Play to your players strength. You let them do what they’ve always been doing and slowly ease in new things. You don’t burn everything down and force your players to do stuff they have never done. Nash off ball movement? WTF???? How about heavy doses of pnr with a little off ball movement in between as a change up so he slowly eases into that role. Is this magic? No its called coaching. Yet mike brown goes, okay stevie wonders nash go do your thing. Who DOES THAT??? i mean its a cough out to say nash can do anything he wants on any play. You effed him up already placing all the burden on nash. You are the coach. You go figure out what each player should be doing. Why are we paying you millions for then if you just tell your players go do whatever you want.

    I’m glad the lakers realize that their coach sucks and threw him out. He honestly should have been thrown out last year with how shitty he ran the team. No offense sets. Just iso kobe, iso bynum, pnr with very little off ball movement or second options. You call that coaching? Might be cold blooded on a game day, but at least they didn’t fuck up as much as the chargers and kept norv for YEARS. Realize you got poop and throw it out please.

  23. This Laker team is faltering because of its offense, the defense was not great, but the turnovers(93 in 5 games) on offense where killing this team. The offense will have to be sound in order for the defense to be at its peak. Sounds crazy because good teams in the league are the total opposite, they get plenty of turnovers and transiton points by jumping passing lanes and running like wild deer(defense leading to offense), that will happen far less often with this older squad. Let Nash orchestrate the show, he doesnt need to be the end of all like in PHX, there is legit talent surrounding him. Once the offense is simplified and things are gradually added over the course of the season, instead of MB’s cram session which lead to disarray, the team will be ready when it counts.

  24. Brown sighting. Insert punchline of choice, or restrain yourself if you can:

  25. I feel it’s better to do this now than in Dec or Jan. Many stated that the pre-season doesn’t matter but I think obviously it does. Had the Lakers gone 5-3 instead of 0-8, Brown would probably not have been seen at Chick-Fil-A today. It’s no wonder they lost confidence in him. Tough decision but something had to be done. A culture of losing is unacceptable for this franchise. Regardless of the outcome you have to respect the gutsy decision. Hoping we will look back at this in June as a genius move.

  26. Great move. I hereby kiss the ring again.
    Dear Jim,

    Since you have completed my last 2 main requests (getting Dwight and firing MB), would it be too much to ask to do just one more? Please hire Phil.

  27. Take this with the grain of salt its been given. I have a friend who may be plugged in… says he is anyway. PJ deal is eminent. While better then Brown, I don’t exactly like this move for more Phil. He had issues getting the team to preform in his last season. They went out like b*****es against Dallas with him as coach. Obviously the team needs to consider who is available and who the players would accept. I just think Jeff Van Gundy is a great coach that has shown the ability to establish a fairly simple offensive system based on the skills of a dominant big man. Every team he has coached has played D to a level greater then the sum of their parts.

    I liked what I was seeing from the Lakers’ O. They were creating efficient shots for most of their players and aside from the expected brain farts that will come from learning a new system, the movement was pretty darn good. They usually got the ball into the post quite early in the clock and then let the movement dictate how they would get their shot. Turnovers would have been fixed as the players adapted. The D was one problem and I think Gasol’s slow feet are one issue. The other issue, the rotation. Brown is known to try stupid rotations. He did it in Cleveland and he did it with us.

    I made the joke on Twitter that Brown went to Lacuna Inc. to get Meeks removed from his rotation. He made some inexplainable decisions with his rotations and I’m just glad he is gone, for that alone.

  28. Whether the MB firing will get us closer to a championship is iffy, but most objective Lake Show fans realize it had to be done. As so many posters have said here, the team lacked any semblance of progress and the team’s defense, which is all about effort, has been horrendous. His substitution patterns were bizarre and his offense schemes very confusing, even to the vets on this team. Do we really need three different offenses?

    The guy made everything way to complicated and Brown’s abilities to motivate, teach and orchestrate were mediocre at best.

    All that said, once again we hear from the often quoted Pau Gasol that “this is a move that should warn all of us” (something like that). Pau continues to use the word US when he really ought to be saying ME, at least a bit more of the time. This guy is making nearly $20 million this year and is really a second tier forward, if that. Why on earth did the Lakers give away the store to Gasol with such a long and expensive contract? I mean, he was never a strong player but his finesse and passing abilities helped make us successful. We should have traded him when we could still demand some value in return. Now it is too late. The guy has one strong game for every three weak efforts. But, hey, the friendly Spaniard is always worth a vanilla quote.

    Finally, I agree with SmoothasSilk that this could end up being precisely what this team right now. To just go out and play without having to overthink things. There is still lots of talent on that floor.

  29. I all along said I worried about Dwight’s back and Nash’ age. Nothing I’ve seen so far has alleviated those concerns… Now adding the fact Pau Gasol looks slower than I’ve ever seen… And please don’t talk about Olympic basketball.

  30. The PJ possibility is all over the place. ESPN is quoting sources that have him wanting to come back and that he is on the Laker short list. This could really happen !!!

  31. There is another possible explanation of the timing. Perhaps the front office knew that Brown was not the right guy for the team but feared that a pretty soft, home-heavy schedule in the next 6 games might allow the Lakers to string together a bunch of wins that serve as fools gold to paper over the still-deficient coach.

    With this upcoming schedule, the interim (or new replacement) coach will likely get off to a very good start….

  32. Lots of talk about Phil. That would mean all new coaches. How does Nash fit? Metta never learned triangle. What about comments made by Phil about not talking to Jim Buss for the entire year? Bet we would see Meeks and Duhon on the court. Maybe release Jamison and reach out to Martin who is Phil’s kind of sub.

    Going to be interesting but can only get better, new coach by Monday it’s down to Phil or Mike. Phil might want $10 million plus. Problem?

  33. Funky Chicken,
    Great observation!

    We also need the maximum amount of time for a new coach to get their imprint on the team.

    The odds are either Phil or D’Antoni. Let’s get this decided by early next week and start to move on. If it is D’Antoni, then perhaps Bickerstaff will have a longer run as acting coach, but Mike can decide on his assistants without being present.

  34. Ko: It has got to be Phil. This is beginning to play out like a movie and the plot will be so much better if it is Phil : ) $10 million + is no problem. We can afford it ! Jeanie gets a job too don’t forget ! This team and Phil are made for each other – come on who else can coach KB, DH, MWP, bring back Pau’s desire, and handle the LA scene, press and of course blogs : )

  35. Robert

    Charlie Sheen?

  36. Well it is all about:


  37. @funky – youre dead on about the fools gold comment. The win against detroit skewed the offensive stats – this team isnt as good on O as people think. Kobe and howard had good numbers but itwas killing everone else. W regards to doubts about Dantoni and Pau – Boris Diaw won sixth man playing as power forward and Pau is faster and more skilled – Suns attacked worked not just because of quick wide open shots and layups – but also because they had players who made excellent reads on the secondary break which is where gasol would excel. Having howard or kobe taking the ball to the rim in transition, then passing to a trailng gasol for a short jumper or drive and dunk or dish or lob or kickout would be a great sight. Also, talk about gasol not working playing along side another centre . – he did pretty good playing w his bro all summer. And all the talk about Dantonis offence taking ball out of kobes hand -well duh – that was the whole point of bringing in more superstar players to ease the load. Instead guess what – 5 games into season and kobe has to play heroball again. Good weekend dime piece on w Stein succinctly making the case for the only two really legitimate choices for head coach – PJ or Dantoni

  38. Perhaps this is a sign that Dr. Buss has decided that Jim’s decisions and choices arent going to work. Trading Bynum for an injured D12 not knowing if D12 is going to resign, the couple that with MB being fired this early in the season. Toss in the Phil sighting, Im just saying maybe its Jeannie time. Also the laker bench personnel are awful they get no minutes and didnt gel last year and werent even getting run this year. I think his mis management of minutes and not understanding the mindset of the team were his ultimate undoing

  39. Dom: Trading Bynum for Dwight remains the very best possible move the Lakers could have made. Dwight’s obviously not all the way back yet.

    Bynum hasn’t even suited up yet. Out with, wait for it, more knee issues.

  40. i don’t know what will happen with this Laker team. I do think that this firing has less to do with Mike Brown than people think, however.

    I think Brown knew they needed a completely different system to integrate Nash and Howard into in order for this Laker team to be capable of winning a championship.

    In the short term, they might benefit with some victories to get fans a little less stressed. But the lack of patience shows little regard for the major changes that have taken place.

    These pieces of Bryant, Howard, Gasol, and Nash do not fit comfortably together. They need to make major adjustments in their game in order to become whole as a team. These things take time.

    The Heat showed patience through their ugly growing pains. In LA, there is no patience.

  41. Jim, the more recent Heat team showed patience, but Riley booted SVG when the Heat acquired Shaq. This team reminds me of the Kobe/Shaq era, and no offense to Brown, but who better to coach it than the guy who won 3 championships with that squad?