The NBA: Hollywood Script

Just WOW! Are you kidding me? This is ridiculous! This is effing unbelievable!

These are some of the reactions that went through my mind on Friday afternoon when I read about the LA Lakers firing their head coach, Mike Brown after their 1-4 start. I was shocked to learn that the Lakers or at least their management, was on panic mode this early. More shocking was the fact that the general manager and upper management were quoted on saying that Mike Brown was their coach and that he had their full support. Even Kobe Bryant voiced his support for Coach Brown. All those happened on Thursday. I guess a lot can happen in 24 hours? Or just dont believe what management says.

The firing of a coach is common. What's uncommon is the timing and the circumstances surrounding the firing. It was way too early to fire a coach 5 games into the season with new players (2 of those are starters), some injuries and a new offense. All these things needed time and patience to develop and mesh. The biggest obstacle for the Lakers was to get everyone healthy enough to practice and learn their new Princeton offense. During training camp, Kobe and Howard missed time due to injuries. Now, Steve Nash is still out with an injury which means that the starters have yet to play 2 full games together. Their bench is also among the bottom 5 in bench production so the decline from starters to reserves is steep. Hence, the slow start was somewhat understandable but definitely not expected when you still have Kobe, Howard and Gasol.

Mike Brown OUT
(Photo taken from Toronto Sun)

The slow start is everyone's fault, not just the coach. This team was supposed to be good defensively but they struggled early against weaker teams (Blazers, Jazz, Mavs). Their turnovers were high (18+ per game) and they could not defend in transition. There are many reasons for why they struggled defensively. First, Howard is not 100% and so is Bryant. Defensive rotations were being missed and the opponents were eager and motivated to beat the new look Lakers. Second, the Princeton offense was confusing (and not learned enough) so the players were caught at wrong positions on the floor when a shot was taken. The defensive breakdowns happen due to a lack of communication and lack of team chemistry. Players are learning to play with each other and 5 games is way too small a sample to measure the ability or inability of a coach to get wins.

The high expectations and the "championship or bust" mantra from the Lakers surely did not help Mike Brown at all. Fans and management expected the Lakers to be dominant this early and clearly that has not been the case. Still, the Lakers had 6 games (5 now after winning against the Warriors on Friday night) straight at home where Coach Brown could have seen improvement and WINS. Too bad he did not even get the chance. It sucks to be fired this early without even having the right (or fair) chance to see the team grow and develop. Luckily for him, contracts in the NBA are guaranteed including those for coaches. Mike Brown will still receive around $10 million from the Lakers. A more prudent and fair evaluation of Brown should have happened after at least one month or around 20 games with a healthy starting lineup.

Apparently, the Princeton offense was approved and maybe even suggested by Kobe Bryant after the Lakers lost to the Thunder in the playoffs last year. In my opinion, that offense did NOT fit the strengths and abilities of their 2 new players. Nash needed to have the ball to initiate more pick and rolls while Howard would be best suited posting up. Kobe can flourish in any offense because he is an exceptional scorer while Gasol can adjust to other types because he can post, pass and he can shoot.

So, who should the Lakers hire next?

ALL IN for Phil?

Will the LA Lakers follow the Hollywood script of failing early in the standings. Having turmoil and doubts within the team. Then firing the coach who never had a chance... then hiring a legend who parted ways with the team two years ago in a messy incident... then the new coach takes the team all the way to the championship trophy for a happy ending?

The obvious choice for the lead role of a new head coach is the Zen Master. Even Kobe Bryant has lobbied that the Lakers should bring Phil Jackson back. It has been reported that Phil wants to be back and the Lakers are willing to pay the big bucks AGAIN. Will this pairing work? It might work but that wont be a guarantee. If Jackson comes back and installs the Triangle offense, how long will it take the players to get used to it? The Triangle is similar to the Princeton offense since it involves a lot of passing, off-ball movements and equal shot opportunities for each player. Coach Phil wont have the luxury of training camp to prepare and integrate the whole team since the Lakers have only 5 players (Kobe, Blake, Gasol, Artest, Ebanks) who played under Phil two years ago. Jackson loves coaching superstars and Im sure he would love the challenge. Will his health permit him to coach and can he do it without enough preparation?

Another possible choice is Mike D'Antoni. The connection here comes from Nash and his two MVP campaigns playing under D'Antoni. The Suns thrived in his offensive sets and they were scoring in bunches. The Suns were also giving up points in bunches and they had shooters. The Lakers dont have the personnel to employ D'Antoni's fast-paced offense so this pairing may not work. Kobe also played for D'Antoni during Team USA games since Mike is an assistant coach and they used some of his offensive sets during the past Summer Olympics.

Ive heard Jerry Sloan could be another option but he is an old-school coach who preaches "my way or the highway" to his players, even to superstars. Sloan does not like it when his players improvise and make their own decisions on the floor. He had a fragile relationship with Deron Williams when both of them were still with the Utah Jazz. D-Will is an amazing point guard who can make his own plays and create his shot or for his teammates. Jerry Sloan was not totally happy with how Willams conducted their offense, often without his approval. With the Lakers, Kobe will definitely take things into his own hands often so that could result into a clash with Sloan. That wont be pretty especially if Kobe produces another "Death Stare".

My personal choice: Stan Van Gundy. hehe Id pay to see the theatrics that Howard and SVG could come up with in Hollywood.

Follow me on Twitter: @rollzter

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