UPDATE: We’ll let the original post below stand as it was, but a funny thing happened while it was in the process of going up: the Lakers fired Brown. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, letting him go so soon went against the wishes of GM Mitch Kupchak, but that doesn’t matter too much now.
What also doesn’t matter terribly much is my personal opinion on Brown’s firing, but here it is anyway: Brown got royally screwed. You give him all these new pieces – when, mind you, a certain championship-winning squad in Miami just a couple seasons ago proved that no matter how talented the new pieces are, they take a while to start playing well together – then give him a grand total of less than two regular-season games to coach that full team? The only conclusion is the the Lakers were never serious about giving Brown a true shot to make this work.
Look, the Lakers have sucked so far this year. Anyone can look at the record and tell you that. But it was FIVE DAMN GAMES. Even for a team as clearly built for the present as these Lakers, five games is not nearly enough to determine how they’ll be doing at the end of the season. But it was apparently enough for the Lakers to determine that Brown wasn’t their guy. Good luck to whoever replaces Brown: you can go in with the knowledge you’ll be hanging by a thread from day one. I hope Brown gets another shot – an actual shot – to prove himself as a head coach again. This season wasn’t off to the kind of start anyone envisioned, but he sure deserved better than this.
The original post is below.
There’s been no more heavily-scrutinized team in the early part of the NBA season than the Lakers, and while it’s early and it’ll take time for all the new pieces to mesh and Steve Nash is hurt and blah blah blaaaaaaaahhhhh, the scrutiny was inevitable – and with the team sitting at 1-4, it’s deserved. But maybe the most-analyzed Laker isn’t any of the guys on the court, but coach Mike Brown. Sure, the Lakers are trying to quiet speculation that his job is in jeopardy and Kobe Bryant is laughing off all the talk of that death stare, but as long as the Lakers keep struggling, Brown’s job status will be in question.
More proof of that: this report out today that says the Lakers aren’t quite as comfortable with Brown steering the ship as they’ve said publicly… and that if the team doesn’t turn things around during an upcoming homestand, it could be curtains for the Brown era:
Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown’s job would be in immediate jeopardy if the team’s six-game homestand is unsuccessful, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Lakers, while having publicly expressed support for Brown in the wake of a 1-4 start, have privately grown sufficiently concerned about the state of the team to the point that management is prepared to look seriously at a coaching change at this early juncture if L.A. can’t take advantage of what look to be multiple winnable games in the upcoming stretch.
Note that what exactly would have to happen for Brown to (supposedly) lose his job after this stretch of games (see them here) is nebulous. What is “unsuccessful,” exactly? Could be many things. What if the Lakers go 4-2 over these next six home games? Would that be enough? 5-1? There’s a game against the Spurs in there – surely a loss could be excused in that one. We doubt 3-3 would be classified as “successful,” but also remember that Brown wouldn’t necessarily be fired if the Lakers aren’t up to snuff – he’d just be “in immediate jeopardy.” The really hot seat.
All this goes to show that there was nothing the Lakers could have done to make people think Brown wasn’t in trouble. There have been questions about whether he was the right fit for the job since the Lakers first hired him. Now that the Lakers are trying their hand at the superteam thing and it’s not working out so far, how were people not going to speculate that Brown might not be long for the Lakers?
For the record, we think Brown deserves some more time. Nash getting hurt wasn’t his fault, and he was supposed to be the guy that made this whole experiment run. At least give Brown a chance to coach the group the Lakers put together. But anything short of an NBA title this season was going to lead to questions about Brown’s job. A 1-4 start guaranteed those questions would begin early. The Lakers re a win-now team that’s not winning now. Unless that changes, expect to keep hearing Brown’s name in these types of stories until the Lakers either reel off a long winning streak or become some other coach’s mega-talented problem.
Getty photo, by Stephen Dunn