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Plenty of big names available to be Lakers next coach. Here’s a list.

Nov 9, 2012, 2:31 PM EDT

Phil Jackson Getty Images

When the Lakers take the court Friday night to take on the banged up Golden State Warriors, Bernie Bickerstaff will coach the Los Angeles Lakers.

Who will coach the team in a couple of weeks is a different question entirely.

The Lakers have fired Mike Brown — when Kobe gives you a death stare it is a DEATH STARE. The Lakers have said they are making a big, national search — which means they are spending to bring in a big name (they just bought out four years of Mike Brown). Before they decide who they hire the Lakers management needs to decide what kind of team they are going to be going forward, what direction to go. Two years ago when Brown was hired it felt more like the Lakers defining themselves as who they were not going to be — they were not Phil Jackson and the triangle. His presence was purged from the organization on several levels.

Here’s a quick list of guys the Lakers could get:

Mike D’Antoni: Lots of Lakers fans asking for him, I don’t think he gets it. On the plus side, he has a great relationship with both Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant (remember Kobe grew up in Italy when D’Antoni was a star player over there). He brings a fun and entertaining style of basketball. Although, we can seriously debate whether this roster, outside of Steve Nash, is suited to play D’Antoni’s up-tempo style. This is an old and slow Lakers team. We saw in New York how things went for him with a roster poorly suited to his needs. Also, his teams never even reached the NBA finals, thanks to Robert Horry’s hip.

Most importantly, there is this from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network:

Brian Shaw: This is the guy the Lakers players wanted to replace Phil Jackson, and it would have made sense if the Lakers wanted continuity. But Jim Buss wanted to go another direction, to put his stamp on the organization. Shaw is currently a Pacers assistant coach and after interviewing him and saying no so they could hire Brown, would Lakers management really admit that was a mistake and hire Shaw now? Plus, Shaw has never been a head coach and you’re going to hand him the keys to this car and it’s high-powered engine?

Jerry Sloan: The old-school, hard-a** long-time coach of the Jazz would bring some discipline and accountability to a Lakers roster that seemed to be lacking it. He loves the pick-and-roll and the Lakers have the personnel to kill with that play. But Sloan is not young, had trouble getting along with a star player in Utah (Deron Williams) and brings a flex offense that also can take a while to learn. The guy can win, he is loyal, but does he fit with management and the players?

Nate McMillan: The former Sonics and Blazers coach is well-respected by players if not Portland ownership. His teams were notoriously slow paced, which certainly would give the Lakers a style to stick with. However no team of his ever finished in the top half of the league in defensive efficiency (points allowed per possession). Could he do better with Dwight Howard in the mix?

Stan Van Gundy: Um… no. He’s a fantastic coach, but did you watch him and Howard in Orlando and how that went down?

Jeff Van Gundy: His teams always defended hard but were not offensively creative or entertaining (as the Lakers prefer). Plus he seems happy broadcasting, making this a long shot. Still, I love the idea of seeing Jeff Van Gundy grabbing on to Dwight Howard’s leg during an on-court fight just for old time’s sake.

Flip Saunders: Don’t laugh — yes he struggled in Washington but he has won with veteran teams. Not a guy that brings a big presence and structure, he’s more easy going and a players’ coach. A long shot.

Phil Jackson: I know a lot of Lakers fans want to see this happen, but I can’t picture it. For a few reasons. First, when he left more than a year and a half ago, you got the sense he was done with being on the sidelines. He was done with the grind of coaching — long hours, lots of travel, too many short hotel beds and massive egos around. Does he really want to coach again.

The bigger issue is that Jim Buss desperately wanted to put his own stamp on the franchise after Jackson left. It wasn’t just him a lot of people — people who had been with the Lakers for many years — were let go (with the impending lockout used as the excuse). In even a bigger way than bringing back Shaw, bringing back Jackson would be to admit a mistake. I’m not sure Lakers management does that even if Jackson wanted to return. Which he may or may not, he can’t exactly coach via Skype from Montana.

That said, at his press conference Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said Jackson is “not coaching you’d be negligent not to be aware” and at least consider it.

  1. grandtheftrondo - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    ZEN MASTER coming back

  2. nagidac - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    My guess is that no one on this list will be the next coach.

  3. lew24 - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    I think that the fact that Brown is gone shows that Jim knows that he made an error. You have to give some credit for him to recognize that. The time is now and they need to win.

  4. oddte - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    all of those coaches are either A) not good or B) retired. They have no options or they would have fired Brown 5 months ago. Couldn’t happen to a nicer team.

    • oddte - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:37 PM

      your tears, Laker fans, give them to me. you know im right. your options are bad and worse.

      • jimeejohnson - Nov 9, 2012 at 8:34 PM

        Not a Laker fan but I still think you’re lying!

  5. libertynchurch - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    None of the above. Coach Brown was a patsy, and his dismisal will be used as an excuse. The Lakers realize that this team is slow and will probably have serious health issues for the entire year. We can expect another trade or two. The job will become attractive when the dust settles, but for now? They should just tread water on the coach, and let Mr Kupchak do his thing.

    • badintent - Nov 10, 2012 at 1:14 AM

      Knicks win 5-0 Check
      Lakers fire Brown after 5 games Check
      Lakers fire Westwood after 7 games Check
      Lakers beat college team tonight Check

  6. eventhorizon04 - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    I think we’ll find out who the new guy is soon enough.

    There was no reason Lakers management had to fire Mike Brown so early, UNLESS they had a replacement in mind and wanted to give him as a much time to install his systems on offense and defense.

  7. uscthom78 - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    We all know GM Kobe wants coach k but that ain’t happening.

  8. fanz928 - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Get Larry brown

  9. dysraw1 - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    now this cracks my side wasn’t you guys saying how secure, an stable the Laker organization is. how they don’t just fly off the handle. oh brother

  10. cantonbound13 - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    No Isiah Thomas???? I can’t even say that without laughing.

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 9, 2012 at 8:36 PM

      You know what you’re talking about when it comes to Isiah: you’re a Knicks fan.

  11. ah20bloopbloop - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    Chuck Barkley says he’s thinking about retiring from the TNT crew……..maybe he can direct the Lakes…..naw…on second thought. That’d be turrrrrrible….LOL

    • 1historian - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:30 PM

      true it WOULD be turrrrrrrrrible,


      it would also be funnier than hell

  12. hor2012 - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    I’m not trying to be funny but what about coach “K” from Duke. I heard rumors that the Lakers we’re planing to go after Labron James in a few years. Kolby may be retiring around that time and all three Kolby, Howard and James played for coach K on the olympic team. Just a thought.

  13. gerryb323 - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:02 PM


  14. stoudemelo - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    Don Nelson?

  15. chargerdillon - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    Do any of you really think a franchise like the Lakers would’ve pulled this move without a better option in play?

    Really guys? This is the Lakers we’re talking about, the same franchise that stole Dwight and Nash for pennies on the dollar!


    Hating the Lakers is fine, I have no problem with that. But the Lakers do smart business, it’s why they are the Lakers, i dont say that from an egotistical fan perspective, i say that from historical facts in how they build and manage teams.

    That being said, the could bring back Phil Jackson from the coaching grave and still get swept by the Heat in the finals (which i still predict). I’m a realistic laker fan, the Heat are not losing barring an injury

    • savvybynature - Nov 9, 2012 at 5:16 PM

      Giving up Bynum for D12 may turn out to be a good move, unless Howard bolts at the end of the season, which is quite possible.
      Nash hasn’t done anything this season yet to justify bragging about his acquisition. If he doesn’t stay healthy, that could wind up a terrible move too.
      I wouldn’t thump your chest just yet, especially sitting at 1-4.

    • eugenesaxe - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:51 PM

      ANY option is better than Brown.

  16. shaner329 - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    Scottie Pippen, now’s your chance!

  17. thundersandpackers - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    Give that man a championship please!!!!

  18. pistol7pete - Nov 9, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    Not good .?.?.? Did you just start watching the NBA this week

  19. cameltoehoe - Nov 9, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Why not just let the inmates run the asylum? They have enough death stares, rolling of the eyes, & sarcastic chuckles for everyone.

  20. daddyghi - Nov 9, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    get michael bay or quentin tarantino then start the show!

    • daddyghi - Nov 9, 2012 at 8:46 PM

      haha! one lakers fan that cant take a joke…

      • manchestermiracle - Nov 9, 2012 at 9:24 PM

        Oh, sorry, let me know when you write one.

      • daddyghi - Nov 9, 2012 at 10:12 PM

        no need.. coz ur it…

      • daddyghi - Nov 9, 2012 at 10:13 PM

        and the lakers…

  21. jimeejohnson - Nov 9, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    They need Magic Johnson: somebody who knows how to win it all. That’s why Charles Barkley won’t do.

    • manchestermiracle - Nov 9, 2012 at 9:24 PM

      Magic has already coached the Lakers and didn’t do very well.

  22. manchestermiracle - Nov 9, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    I agree with nagidac in that the next Lakers coach is likely not on this list.

    D’Antoni? Not available in the necessary time frame. Not really a good fit, either.

    Shaw? This would require Buss to admit to two mistakes. Possible, but not likely.

    Sloan? A longer shot than most would think. He seemed pretty burnt out about coaching when he left Utah. L.A. would be a pretty high-wattage stage light to deal with.

    McMillan? An excellent coach in poor to bad situations. Kept the Sonics relevant and produced in a pretty horrible Blazers’ fiasco.

    Van Gundys? Not impressed with Jeff and Stan pretty much took himself out of any possible consideration by calling Lakers’ management “ridiculous.”

    Saunders? A reach, at best.

    Jackson? I think he’s had enough of the grind, but never say never. He certainly likes a challenge and would instant credibility with this group.

    The Lakers brain trust needs to first establish what identity this team can assume and then find a coach who can bring that out. The experiment with allowing Brown to dictate offensive strategy when he clearly was clueless about that end of the game cannot be repeated. Find a coach who’s strengths compliment the players’ abilities and success will follow. This will require more input from other executives besides Jim Buss, who demonstrated that he isn’t quite ready yet to make this kind of decision on his own. Let’s hope this was a good learning experience for him and that he uses it constructively.

  23. 1historian - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    Jack Nicholson or Spike Lee – but I’m going to need a decision FAST

    • badintent - Nov 10, 2012 at 1:18 AM

      Last time we saw Spike , Reggie was choking him with 3s…………………………………….

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