Kobe Bryant. Dwight Howard. Pau Gasol. Steve Nash. 1-4.
After building a superteam during the offseason and raising the hopes of millions of Lakers fans around the world, the LA top brass decided that they’d had enough of Mike Brown.
Brown, in the second year of a four-year contract he signed in 2011, was fired earlier today as Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak chose to hand their coach the pink slip sooner rather than later.
In the wake of Brown’s firing, a lot of names have cropped up on who will be taking over the Lakers’ all-star roster. We go through three who we think would best fit LA’s championship quest this year.
(All photos from The Associated Press)
1. Phil Jackson
Regular season career record: 1155-485 (.704)
Playoff career record: 229-104 (.688)
Last gig: 2010-11 LA Lakers (57-25, retired)
Who should you call to reenergize arguably the league’s most talented team? Of course, that should be none other than the best coach in NBA history – Phil Jackson. Although the Zen Master’s departure from LA a couple of years ago was not all that rosy, bringing him back for a third tour of duty in Lakerland will make wonders in resuscitating the Lakers’ disappointing campaign so far.
He brings in a winning pedigree and championship rings (that other candidates here cannot boast of) and will definitely reintroduce the triangle to a crew that has only five (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace, Steve Blake, Devin Ebanks) remnants of his 2010-11 squad.
It will not be as smooth sailing as a lot of Lakers fans think it will be, but Jackson’s reputation will help fend off bumps along the road as the NBA’s only $100-million payroll team vie for that much-coveted Larry O’Brien trophy.
2. Mike D’Antoni
Regular season career record: 388-339 (.533)
Playoff career record: 26-29 (.473)
Last gig: 2011-12 NY Knicks (18-24, resigned)
Hiring D’Antoni might bode well for two-time MVP Steve Nash, who seemed to be constricted by the Princeton offense Brown installed before Nash went down with an injury last week. Both D’Antoni and Nash authored the league’s most entertaining attack from 2004-2008 and a second serving of Seven Seconds or Less will definitely bring hard-to-please Los Angeles cheering night in, night out.
D’Antoni, however, has just come off a knee replacement surgery in the last month and reportedly will not be available on the sidelines until December. Another knack on the Italian is he hasn’t paid much attention to defense during his tenures with Phoenix and New York, and signing him up probably won't solve the Lakers’ biggest in-game problem right now (22nd in defensive efficiency).
Nevertheless, outside of Jackson, D’Antoni would be the best fit for LA owing to his healthy relationship with both Nash (Phoenix era) and Bryant (whom he coached in Team USA). Fun times are probably back in Hollywood.
3. Jerry Sloan
Regular season career record: 1221-803 (.603)
Playoff career record: 98-104 (.485)
Last gig: 2011-11 Utah Jazz (31-23, resigned)
From Stockton to Malone to Nash to Dwight?
Sloan, who owns the third-most regular season wins in NBA history (and most in this list), will bring in a no-nonsense, highly-disciplined atmosphere if hired while also coming in as a respected coach and proven winner who will enforce rules and structure to this all-star-laden group.
The Lakers look to desperately need the toughness that personified Sloan’s Utah squads for more than 20 years. Whether that would sit well with the free-spirited Howard remains to be seen, but Sloan – with all his experience and tactical prowess – would definitely right the ship in the short-term.
Who’s your pick?