Earlier today, the Los Angeles Lakers named former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown as the replacement for Hall of Fame coach and 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson.
The decision came as a surprise to many analysts and fans alike as many believed current assistant coach Brian Shaw to be a shoe-in to fill the vacancy on the bench. Brown is reported to make $18.25 million over the next four years with the Lakers.
Brown’s resume fits the needs of the Lakers at the time in their quest for another title after winning back-to-back championships before being eliminated by the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals. As head coach of the Cavaliers, Brown was able to make it the NBA Finals in 2007 and two trips to the Eastern Conference finals in five seasons, posting a record of 272-138.
It also helps that his previous star player was none other than LeBron James. However, during James’ time under Brown, he didn’t seem too pleased with his lack of Finals appearances and made it no secret his slight doubt in Brown’s ability to lead them there.
Kobe Bryant has made it public that he wants the next Lakers’ coach to be more defensive-minded. Luckily for him, Brown fits this description and effectively made the Cavaliers one of the premier defensive teams in the league during his time there. However, his lack of Finals experience causes me to question this hiring.
Kobe is reaching the end of his career with only three years left on his contract with no indication of his willingness to sign another extension. I believe Kobe would rather retire before requesting a trade or signing elsewhere but I also fear that this may indeed occur if Brown doesn’t work fast. Kobe’s mindset at this point in his career is “win now”. The only thing on his mind is getting his sixth championship ring and adding to that collection.
The situation the Lakers are in doesn’t require much adjustment to the roster but there does need to be some sort of change. Kobe and Pau are locked in for a while, but Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, and Derek Fisher have very short contracts. The Lakers need more youth to go along with Andrew Bynum and Shannon Brown.
If they choose to let go of Odom, they will need a replacement of somewhat equal value and players of his type are very hard to come by. Artest provides solid defense but has become rather inconsistent over the last few seasons.
All of the players on the Lakers’ current roster want to win a championship and would prefer it to come in the short term. The team is built to compete for championships for a few more years but the question becomes whether or not Mike Brown is able to lead them effectively.
There are numerous egos in the Lakers locker room and only a handful of coaches would be able to manage them all. I’m not quite sure if Mike Brown is one of those coaches. In Cleveland, Brown only had to worry about LeBron but the Lakers are a completely different beast.
Kobe will make his demands and Bynum and Artest will also want to contribute their two cents as well. Whether or not Brown will be able to handle varying personalities that come with the position will determine his success as coach of the Lakers.