The Lakers fired Coach Mike Brown after a 1-4 start to his 2nd season in charge.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced the surprising move a couple of hours before they hosted Warriors. Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will coach the Lakers against the Golden State while the club’s top brass searches for Brown’s replacement after just 18 months in charge.
”The net position is that the team is not winning at the pace we were expecting this team to win, and we didn’t see improvement,” Kupchak claimed at the Lakers’ training complex.
Los Angeles began the season with championship expectations after trading for center Dwight Howard and point guard Steve Nash, adding two megastars alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. But the Lakers went 0-8 during the preseason last month for the 1st time in franchise history before stumbling into the regular season with an 0-3 start, losing to Dallas, Portland and the Clippers.
After finally beating Detroit for their 1st win, the Lakers looked listless again in a loss at Utah on Wednesday, dropping to last place in the Western Conference. Los Angeles’ defense has been mostly poor, and the players still haven’t worked out the new offense installed by Brown during training camp.
Combined with their aging core of talent and a massive payroll, Kupchak and owners Jim and Jerry Buss decided they couldn’t wait another game to start winning. Brown was dismissed in a morning meeting.
”We’re not looking 5 or 10 years down the road,” Kupchak claimed. ”This team was built to contend this year. There’s no guarantee that this team can win a championship, but we feel that it can be deeply in the hunt. We’re also aware that our players … are growing older, so our feeling is that we will be able to say at this level for another couple of years.”
Brown was employed in May 2011 to replace 11-time NBA champ Phil Jackson, signing a 4-year deal worth roughly $18 million in May 2011. Kupchak asserted the 8-figure payout they’ll have to make on Brown’s contract wasn’t a factor in their decision.
In a brief meeting, Kupchak did nothing to squelch speculating that Jackson could return for a 3rd tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers. The 67-year-old Jackson walked away from the club in 2011 with few apparent hard feelings, and his health has visibly improved during his time away from the NBA.
Kupchak stated that he has not reached out to any candidates for the job, but thinks it’s quite likely the Lakers will hire an experienced coach who isn’t currently working.
”When there is a coach like Phil Jackson, one of the best-ever greats, and he’s not coaching, I think that you would be negligent not to know that he’s out there,” Kupchak said. Football spreads
”I have great respect for the Buss family and the Lakers’ storied tradition, and I thank them for the opportunity they afforded me,” Brown said in an announcement issued by the Lakers. ”I have a deep appreciation for the coaches and players that I worked with this past year, and I’m wishing the organization nothing apart from success as they move forward.”