Mike Brown will be the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, this much is almost certain. Though his name was floating around for a number of other potential job opportunities -- most notably the Golden State Warriors -- Brown has expressed particular interest in coming to L.A., and will likely be a little more flexible than he lets on when it comes to working out the fine points of his contract.
It is universally agreed that Jim Buss, the team’s executive vice president of player personnel, is the guiding force behind this somewhat unexpected soon-to-be-hire. That, in itself presents an interesting issue, but not one that requires reflection at this point. Rather, all eyes should be turned to one question and one question only:
Is Brown the right fit for this L.A. team?
The truth is, partially because of his relatively small sample size of head coaching experience, it’s difficult to really gauge how Brown will perform with the Lakers. On one hand, he boasts a 272-138 career mark, a Coach of the Year Award, NBA Finals experience and proven ability to work in the spotlight. On the other hand, he has something of a knack for poor offensive strategizing, a habit of deferring to dominant superstar personalities in important moments, and a reputation as the guy who played a crucial role in chasing LeBron James out of Cleveland.
In some ways, the 41 year old embodies everything the Lakers have said they wanted in their new head coach, less the championship pedigree. He’s considered one of the best defensive minds in the league, knows how to relate to his players and is young enough to build a legacy of sorts with the team. Plus, he comes at an affordable price. Besides, what he lacks in championship rings could be just as easily be attributed to a poor roster -- particularly with the end of days approaching -- in Cleveland as it can to his own shortcomings.
What will be interesting to watch in the coming days, weeks, months and possibly years is how Kobe Bryant reacts to the move. At no point during the team’s search for a coach did the Lakers superstar ever endorse or mention Brown in any way. On the surface, it would appear as though a coach that James deemed not good enough to take him to the promise land would not be ideal to the player who has prided himself on being the league’s best over the past 10 years. Then again, maybe the opportunity to show that he could do with Brown what James could not is something that Bryant will embrace.
Brown, when it’s all said and done, is a better coach than people tend to give him credit for. None of the candidates in the coaching discussion -- Rick Adelman, Mike Dunleavy, Brian Shaw, Jeff Van Gundy -- have championship rings on their resume -- as head coaches -- so that’s hardly a strike against him.
The biggest problem the ex-Cavalier leader will face is, unfortunately, is the reputation and perception of him in the media -- which can just as quickly become the narrative as anything else.
Weigh in below. Is this a smart or dumb hire for the Lakers?