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Lakers fire coach Mike Brown five games into season

Nov 9, 2012, 1:21 PM EDT

Mike Brown AP

I guess he doesn’t get a home stand to work this out.

The Lakers have fired Mike Brown, as first reported by Sam Amick of USA Today (who got it from Brown’s agent) and now the Lakers have confirmed this. Brown had three years left on a guaranteed $18 million deal. To eat all that cash shows you how badly the Lakers wanted a change.

“This was a difficult and painful decision to make,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said in a released statement. “Mike was very hard-working and dedicated, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to make a change at this time. We appreciate Mike’s efforts and contributions and wish him and his family the best of luck.”

The Lakers started the season 1-4 but that doesn’t really do justice to how ugly it has been. They were struggling on defense (Brown’s strong suit) and they were turning the ball over one in every five times down the court as they were dealing with the complexity of the new hybrid-Princeton offense Brown installed. There were questions about Brown’s ability to turn this around but it was thought he would get a chance. Even Jim Buss — the guy running the team — talked patience in the last 48 hours. But that vote of confidence was a kiss of death.

Laker management, after watching Brown last season and the start of this, decided he is not the man for the job.

This kind of change doesn’t happen without Kobe Bryant and other Lakers stars requesting if not signing off on it. Not this early in the season.

To be fair, Brown hasn’t had a full team to work with. Dwight Howard missed much of training camp returning from back issues, Kobe Bryant is battling a sore foot and Steve Nash has only played one-and-a-half of the Lakers five games this season. It’s hard to ask any coach to win a lot in that circumstance.

But there were questions around this team and Brown coming into the season and clearly Lakers management reached its decision and acted quickly.

As for potential replacements, Bernie Bickerstaff will coach the team in the interim but a “national search” for a new coach will be conducted, the team says.

There also are some name free agent coaches out there — Mike D’Antoni (who has a great relationship with Steve Nash and Kobe, but also had knee replacement surgery in the last few weeks and is not moving around much for more than a month), Nate McMillan and Jerry Sloan. Don’t bet on a Phil Jackson return, not after Jim Buss purged a lot of Jackson from the organization after he left before the lockout. Same with Brian Shaw, bad blood there. Also, Stan Van Gundy would be a no go, but it would be fun to ask Dwight Howard about it.

It’s hard to imagine the Lakers made this move without thinking about who would be the next coach and having him ready to go. But apparently they did.

  1. sun602 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Stan Van Gundy: Hello Dwight.

    • storebrandcookies - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:26 PM

      Beat me to it!

    • mazblast - Nov 10, 2012 at 10:09 AM

      If Dwight tells His Kobeness that he’d deign to be “coached” by SVG, it could happen. I don’t see that happening. DH doesn’t want it, and Stan really doesn’t want it. He’s been through that nightmare before.

  2. ibchuck33 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:26 PM

    Dwight Howard got himself another one! Who’s next. Hahahahaha

  3. heathater4lifeson - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    He gone

    • zerole00 - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      LoL what happened to the “Lakers being patient” and “Jim supports Brown” talk that Kurt’s been preaching over the last couple days?

  4. cosanostra71 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    crazy… lets turn it around Lakers!

  5. miamatt - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    I give 4 days as the over/under on a contract being finalized with Phil Jackson. Vote thumbs up for over, thumbs down for under.

  6. limonadamas - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    OK, let’s do this! No excuses anymore. Most teams have flaws. Good coaching is supposed to mitigate that. SVG, Sloan, or even D’Antoni would be big upgrades. McMillan, not so much.

    • southbeachtalent - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:38 PM


    • passerby23 - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:09 PM

      D’Antoni’s greatest offensive successes were with high octane, up-tempo offenses. The Lakers don’t have the personnel for that, but I wonder if D’Antoni could bring some more creativity to their offensive schemes at least. Jerry Sloan would be an ideal candidate.

  7. hwatt - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    Mike D’Antoni will be telecommuting and coaching via mobile video screen over the next month.

  8. chitownmatt - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Brown was never the man for that job.
    Frankly, I’m not sure who (if anybody) is.

    It takes a special kind of aura and charisma to be the alpha male in THAT locker room.

  9. dls612 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Kobe fired him not the Lakers!

  10. tomtravis76 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    D’Antoni’s offense with the all of the talent on this Lakers team vs Heat track team in the Finals will be great basketball for all fans.

  11. loungefly74 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    i am very surprised. dang. well…i guess they know something and like the article said, have someone in mind, who would commit. we will see.

  12. ihavenonickname - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Phil’s probably already on a plane back to LA!! or maybe Jerry, but you know they’ve already worked out the replacement.

  13. nbascreed - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    “This kind of change doesn’t happen without Kobe Bryant and other Lakers stars requesting if not signing off on it. Not this early in the season.”

    Kurt, I like this blog, but this is horrible journalism and fantastically irresponsible speculation. You have NO idea if Kobe et al had anything to do with this. None. My logic was that Buss/Kupchak asked themselves a simple question. Do we need to “fail fast” on this Mike Brown project? My guess is their answer was yes.

    • raidmagic - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:12 PM

      Anyone who really thinks Kobe wasn’t involved in this decision clearly knows nothing about how basketball works. No way they make that call without talking to Kobe.

      • nbascreed - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:29 PM

        Anyone who really thinks Kobe wasn’t involved in the decision to HIRE Mike Brown two summers ago, clearly knows nothing abo…oh wait….

      • bougin89 - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:05 PM

        @nbacreed…Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought Kobe, as well as other Laker players at the time, wanted Brian Shaw to get the job.

      • raidmagic - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:15 PM

        @NBAscreed, what does that have to do with the statement above? No one said anything about Kobe wanting him hired and I imagine he was involved in that decision as well. I was simply making a point about your earlier statement calling Kurt out on thinking Kobe was involved.

      • limonadamas - Nov 9, 2012 at 4:42 PM

        @raid: Kobe was noticeably NOT involved in the Brown hire. He wanted Shaw. That’s nbascreed’s point. Why assume that Kobe’s definitely involved in the firing if managment didn’t consult him at all about the hiring?

  14. thraiderskin - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    What a freakin joke… 1-4? I’ve seen other organizations in sports do this same, knee-jerk, thing, it NEVER ends well. I’m not the traditional Laker fan, thank god, so this is pathetic to me. I’m sure I’m going to hear some BS about how the Laker’s just reload, well let’s see this team do that when it is a coach.

    • ron05342 - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:08 PM

      You could argue that Brown actually had 71 regular season games and two very bad playoff series to work things out, and wasn’t capable of doing so, with the best center in the league, one of the greatest shooting guards ever to play the game, and arguably four future hall-of-famers on the team.

      How long did you want them to wait?

      • thraiderskin - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:24 PM

        They just installed a new offense… If the Laker’s front office was so discontent with last season, they should have fired Brown at the end of it. Now you have this new scheme and you’re going to do what with it? scrap it and start a new one, 5 games into the regular season? It isn’t about the talent, its about the time it takes to develop repoir, especially during an offensive overhaul. I’m not a Mike Brown fan, it was a stupid hire, but it look ultra-pathetic to admit to it 5 games in.

      • borderline1988 - Nov 11, 2012 at 9:32 AM

        The timing is awkward, but this is the right move. Mike Brown simply wasn’t a good fit for this team, and any casual basketball knows they aren’t going to win a championship running the Princeton.
        In fact I love how the organization is dealing with this. They are quick to admit their own mistake, and move on. Many other GMs could learn from that.

        And if Phil Jackson actually comes back to coach the Lakers, even the biggest detractors will have to admit the Mike Brown firing was genious.

    • manchestermiracle - Nov 9, 2012 at 10:06 PM

      thraiderskin: I suppose you HAVE “seen other organizations in sports do this same knee-jerk thing…” After all, your name brings up memories of a dozen Raider head coaches in the past 20 years or so. Pot calling the kettle black. And silver. I’ll leave it to you to define pathetic.

      The Lakers have survived other periods worse than this one. 1994 is a perfect example: They went through no less than four coaches that year, finally settling on Del Harris. Then they went through a similar period in 1999, finally getting Phil Jackson. As I recall that worked out pretty well, even if it did entail much angst just like today. So, yes, they CAN reload at coach even if sometimes it takes sitting through a couple of blanks. Mike Brown was quite a mis-fire.

  15. truwarier90 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    mike brown is an overrated coach, and always will be, the guy always stands on the sidelines with his mouth wide open and looks confused on the sidelines.

    Get Phil Jackson on the next plane to LAX and finalize a deal…….lets do this.

    i LOVE LA

  16. shawnsmith262 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Reblogged this on Sidelined and Fined.

  17. paulhargis53 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Jesus, what a HUGE over reaction!

    Looks like Buss the younger reads the papers and blogs too much. His unrealistic fanbase thinks Brown is the problem? He’s gone.

    Seriously though, Kobe is really running this team.

    They gave Brown 5 games? FIVE?!

    Nash injured, Kobe and Dwight slowed….Uff.
    Jackson is stupid if he wants to take over this hot mess. No bench, monster egos, total philosophy offense/defense changes…..

    I honestly thought this train wreck would take at least 25 games.

    • skids003 - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      Paul, where’s your boy lakerluver?

    • southbeachtalent - Nov 9, 2012 at 3:46 PM

      In would imagine coaches will be lining up for this job.. work 5 days get paid for 3 years! sweet!!

  18. bradmoss1 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    $13.5 million to NOT put up with the BS for the next 3 years?
    Yeah, I’ll take it.

  19. spthegr8 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    He should have never been hired in the FIRST PLACE!!!!!!! Kudos too the Lakers front office, for admitting that they made a mistake. Alot of front office’s, would have tried too FORCE thing too work with the guy that they hired and we could have wasted ANOTHER year with him. Now the million dollar question is. Who do we hire?????

  20. teedraper - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    But I thought we weren’t to buy the rumors about his job being in immediate jeopardy? BWahahahahahlolololLOLOLOLOL

    This is just too easy

  21. 1heatedtoombrayduh - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Although I think this move is very premature given the circumstances, I feel like Mike Brown was a mistake in the first place. I would rather have seen Brian Shaw given a chance instead of mike brown. I pray the lakers dont get phil jackson, because they will dominate

    -a heat fan-

    • thraiderskin - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      Agreed… never should have brought Brown to LA in the first place.

    • ron05342 - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      Jimmy-boy selected Brown on the basis of an interview, completely ignoring Adelman’s body of work or the fact that the players loved Brian Shaw.

      Jimmy-boy is a moron. Plain and simple.

      Which makes me fear who he is going to replace him with.

  22. Gamera the Brave - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    No mention of Brian Shaw?

    • 00maltliquor - Nov 10, 2012 at 1:33 AM

      He’s an assistant in IND.

  23. daniel10017 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    The firing also means that Mike Brown’s NBA coaching career is finished. Two firings in less than 3 years will make him unemployible (unless he wants to come back in as an assistant). I think he is best suited for the college game.

  24. ron05342 - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Nice guy, but in the end he doesn’t have the wherewithal to stand up to the players or give them the proper discipline.

  25. metalhead65 - Nov 9, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    I love it! the next guy better win right awy to,no excuses if it was all the coaches fault. haven’t we seen this before though? weren’t they supposed to when it all with malone and payton? after all the spending and deals they made they can’t lose enough!

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