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Did the Lakers overreact in firing Mike Brown?

Nov 9, 2012, 3:39 PM EDT

Mike Brown AP

The Lakers making a move to fire a head coach this quickly is nearly unprecedented. Back in 1982, they did relieve Paul Westhead of his duties, but that was directly related to an acrimonious relationship with Magic Johnson. Franchise players almost always take priority over the head coach, even ones that have won a championship.

Mike Brown didn’t seem to have these issues. Just yesterday Kobe Bryant spoke of being Brown’s “biggest supporter”. And while there’s frustration from losing, that didn’t necessarily translate to a frustration with Brown as the coach. But he’s been let go all the same.

This would imply that this move was made in haste. Through 5 games the Lakers have dealt with a variety of issues. Steve Nash is injured and Dwight Howard is still not 100% physically. They have a new offense to learn and a new roster to build chemistry with. Lack of continuity and precious few game minutes to find an identity — especially for his top players — has been the norm for a team that needed plenty of both to try and build towards their bigger goals.

That said, there have been some negative trends through those five games that have surely influenced this decision.

Brown hasn’t managed his roster in a way that’s optimized the personnel made available to him. In the off-season the Lakers signed Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks to be key contributors off their bench. Brown, though, has been trotting Jamison out as a small forward in most lineups, a position he’s no longer able to play effectively. Meeks, meanwhile, has been buried on the bench and has only played a total of 22 minutes while appearing in three games.

Furthermore, even when Nash was healthy Brown deployed bench lineups with only one of their big four on the floor at a time to little success. At the same time, he played his starters heavy minutes in the pursuit of wins that were likely not in reach and even brought his starters back into a blowout game against the Pistons in fear his bench might cough up the lead.

These situations don’t scream “putting players in position to succeed.”

Taken individually, these issues seem relatively minor. However, when they’re added up and set up against the backdrop of what was seen from him last season, there were legitimate concerns that Brown would show the flexibility and big picture thinking to turn the team around by season’s end.

Of course, there’s more than just a hint of unfairness to this. Brown likely deserved a chance to show what he could do with a fully healthy roster. Steve Nash is set to return relatively soon and adding him back to the lineup would surely have made a difference. Add that to Dwight Howard’s steadily improving health and overall play, and the odds say that Brown could have made enough progress to justify sticking around for longer.

That said, I think it’s also fair to say that this decision is much less about what type of short term progress could have been made in situations that were inching towards ideal and more about the long term goals and wether he was really the right man to guide this team to them. From the Lakers perspective, and mine, there were serious questions that he was that man.

So the Lakers are now embarking on another path rife with change. Some may question how they got here this soon. That’s a legitimate perspective. But if they were going to get to this point at all, isn’t sooner the better way to go?

  1. shockexchange - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Ya think?

  2. itsonlyaspeedbump - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Of course its an overreaction. A team with potentially 4 HOFs fired their coach after losing 4 of 5 games. With games against the Kings and Warriors, thdy were bound to improve their record quickly. (and I use that wording on purpose. ‘Losing 4 of 5’ is a much different connotation than ‘starting 1-4’.) Be that as it may, an over reaction is not the same as the WRONG reaction. Brown probably wasnt the guy to coach this team.

    However, this does show a lack of vision from management, which normally is one of the best front offices in basketball (being smart is how they got these players to begin with). I agree with Kurt’s article. If they didnt think he was the right coach, why not can him during the summer? What did they find out in the last 5 games they didnt already know from last year?

  3. toshirohisaka - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    Reblogged this on NBA Western Conference and commented:
    Great article from NBC about Mike Brown’s firing. I personally feel like 5 games with an almost entirely new line-up is unfair to a coach trying to understand how to manage such a stacked team.

  4. heathater4lifeson - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    7 straight laker posts… Is this some kind of record?

    • hwatt - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:32 PM

      So, this blog is powered off what teams draw the most money. That means Heat, Lakers, a little Thunder… and maybe some other teams out there that they play against.

      • letangusespertplus - Nov 9, 2012 at 6:33 PM

        nah this blog is powered by PFT’s success.

  5. hwatt - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Now the heat is squarely on Buss. If he doesn’t find a guy that can come in and win now, he instantly forfeits the respect of being the Lakers GM. When you got Kobe and Nash who could retire at any time, and Howard who has a 1 year exit strategy… this is NOT the way to say ‘our organization is the place to be’ for the next 10 years.

    The organization was better off with the heat on Brown while Buss worked behind the scenes all year to find a new coach. Either Buss already did that and there will be a press conference tonight or… the Lakers may be looking at some lean years ahead.

  6. ncm42 - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    Proofreading, editing, etc. This is presumably an enterprise staffed with professional writers, yes?

  7. manchestermiracle - Nov 9, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Funny how the tone of the articles on here seem to have changed. First it was all about how the team was struggling to adapt to Brown’s introduction of a new (inappropriate) offense while dealing with Nash’s injury and Howard’s rehabilitation, along with uninspired play. Oh and eight preseason? Growing pains. One and four regular season? Injury and “learning to play together.”

    Not much criticism of Brown finding ways to lose with what most “pundits” have declared a killer starting five. And now look at the Brown defenders coming out of the woodwork and writing articles claiming the Lakers have overreacted and are panicking.

    Whether you admit it to yourself or not, most observers could see the writing on the wall. Brown was not only not getting the job done, he wasn’t even close to having a clue on what to do. Bottom line? Those that want to see the Lakers fail now have to deal with the fact that the biggest hurdle to the team’s success is gone. Should the Lakers hire the right coach, one who can right the ship, the naysayers won’t be having nearly as much fun as they are now.

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