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Coaching Candidate Profile: Mike Brown

BrownThis is the third post in a series of posts focusing on the Lakers' coaching candidates to replace Phil Jackson.

Candidate: Mike Brown

Coaching background: Brown led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2007 NBA Finals and two Eastern Conference Finals appearances through his five seasons where he compiled a 272-138 record and won NBA Coach of the Year honors in 2009. Despite leading the Cavaliers to a league-best 66-16 regular season record in the 2008-2009 season, Cleveland fell to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. Brown followed up with a league-best 61-21 season, but that only translated into more playoff turmoil where Cleveland fell to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Brown was then fired after the season before becoming an ESPN NBA analyst.  He also held assistant coach stints with the Washington Wizards (1997-99), San Antonio Spurs (2000-2003) and Indiana Pacers (2003-2005).  

Pros: A number of reports, including ones from The Times' Broderick Turner ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin and ESPN.com's Marc Stein as well as Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears and Adrian Wojnarowski indicate that Brown is in a strong position to be named the Lakers next head coach, possibly as early as Wednesday. Turner mentioned that Brown became a front-runner because Jim Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president of player personnel. was impressed with Brown's "defensive-minded style." Although Lakers guard Kobe Bryant strongly supported Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw for the head coaching job, Bryant said during his exit interview, "If you’re building a championship team, the DNA always has to start on the defensive end of the floor. Always. I’m a firm believer in that. I don’t believe in building a championship team on offense. It has to be built on defense and rebounding. Period."

Brown certainly fits that bill, with his Cavalier teams among the best defensive units in the league and Lakers forward Ron Artest winning the 2003-04 defensive player of the year award under Brown's defensive system in Indiana. Considering the Lakers battled defensive inconsistency during the 2011 playoffs, they could use the help. Their 17-1 start after the All-Star break largely pointed to the Lakers' new defensive scheme that stressed funneling drivers into the lane so the team's frontline could close in at them on the basket. But once the playoffs hit, the Lakers fell behind on rotations as they struggled defending New Orleans and Dallas. Brown would surely fix that, showing a strong ability in getting the best out of a team that lacked much talent outside of LeBron James and continuing to convince Andrew Bynum to thrive in a defensive role. As Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry said about Brown after Cleveland parted with him, "Mike established a work ethic, defensive identity and culture of winning that was not here previously," Ferry said.

Cons: As accomplished as Brown proved to be on the defensive end, his offensive sets with Cleveland lacked much of an identity. Considering the Lakers frequently deviated from the triangle offense last season and appeared entirely disorganized, this weakness will only expose the Lakers even more. They certainly have the talent to be an offensively efficient team with Bryant's skillset as well as the team's frontline presence with Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. But with the Lakers' poor outside shooting, Bryant's occasional trigger-happy tendencies and the team's inconsistency in properly using its size advantage, lacking a strong offensive identity won't allow the Lakers to fully take advantage of their offensive assets.

This problem could prove even worse if Brown fails to earn respect from the Lakers' veterans, specifically Bryant. Sure, Brown had convinced LeBron James to thrive defensively, but he also game James free reign to play 1 on 5 on offense. After years of that coddling, Brown was ultimately let go in hopes that would help convince James to stay with Cleveland during free agency last off-season. This might not be a factor right away, but the moment adversity hits, it'll be a gamble to assume Brown could command the same respect someone such as Brian Shaw or Rick Adelman would receive from the Lakers. 

-- Mark Medina

mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Should former Cavaliers Coach Mike Brown get the coaching job, he'll improve the Lakers' defense. But will his failed offensive philosophies in the past haunt the Lakers? Credit: AP Photo/Tony Dejak

 
Comments () | Archives (26)

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I have to admit that I never had Mike Brown on my Lakers coaching radar but he has a strong resume. While he never won an NBA championship, he did post some impressive regular season records coaching the Cavaliers, even winning a Coach of the Year award. As a Popovich disciple, Brown also has a reputation as an excellent defensive coach who leaves offensive strategies to his assistants.
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Putting the pieces of the Lakers puzzle together, I had expected the front office to go for an offensive oriented coach like Rick Adelman due to the rumors that Jerry and Jim Buss wanted to bring back Showtime. I also found it fascinating that Jim Buss appears more and more to be taking over at the helm of the Lakers. Mike Brown may join Andrew Bynum as major moves engineered by Jim.
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Listening to Jerry Buss’ comments, it’s beginning to appear that the Lakers are not looking to make any major moves this offseason, instead focusing on tweaking the roster rather than blowing it up. Hopefully, the tweaks to which he is referring will include upgrading the point guard position, a move that is going to be critical if we are really abandoning the Triangle Offense as it would appear.
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The big question to be answered is what offense will Mike Brown run. Is there a chance that he will retain some of the Lakers current assistant coaches and actually run a version of the Triangle? Or will he look to bring in a strong offensive oriented assistant coach to take over the offense? One thing you have to say about being a Lakers fans is that you never lack for drama and intrigue win or lose.
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TOM


Mike Brown has no offense. It was give the ball to Lebron and let him do whatever he did with it. Lakers need someone who knows the personnel and how to utilize them. Mike Brown is not it in my opinion.

@MM ... I want to thank you for being open minded enough to give the TypePad sign in a test. I signed in using Twitter just like LRob did and found it to be simple and painless. It’s obvious that we needed to do something to solve the current malaise and I think this is the solution that will work. Hopefully, everybody will put their personal preferences aside and join us in restoring the blog to its position as the premier online meeting place for Lakerholics everywhere in the world.
..................................
TOM

Brown is a good coach if he can get a scrub team to the finals. The chicago bears coach is a defensive guy who brought in an offensive guy mike matz to run the offense and it worked wonders.

So far so good Laker Tom. Appreciate your help. This is certainly not an original idea. I have mentioned this possibility for quite some time now but the chorus hear loudly rejected it. But I appreciate your backing because I think it helped assuage some concerns. We'll see how this operates the rest of the time. So far I haven't had to delete comments so that's always a good sign.

As far as if Mike Brown would be hired, I'm not really sold. I think he'd be great with defense. But with how poorly he had the offense run with the Cavs, I can only imagine how things will be unorganized. The Lakers needed to be a defensive oriented team but then got away from that for some reason after the 17-1 All-Star break. But they clearly still didn't use their offensive strengths properly. As much as Brown got LeBron to buy into defense, I just don't see how he's going to be able to get in the ear of Kobe. Brian Shaw would've been a great transition. Change just for the sake of change isn't always necessary. As bad as this season was, Phil's philosophy did bring the Lakers 5 titles. But with Jim Buss, this is his moment to shine. Hopefully for the Lakers, the ego doesn't consume himself

Brown ran the offense poorly? Brown was the same man who came into the staples center and prompted the laker fans to pelt kobe and friends with foam fingers and cups etc.

Kobe makes a poor general manager remember? Plus we know the Buss will never let him decides who the next coach will be. The busses are showing the mamba who really is in charge. Shaw is kobe's choice. Brown is an excellent defensive coach like lovie smith of the bears. He probably will bring his former assistant coach malone to run the offense.

I think it's fair to criticize Brown's offense at CLE. CLE never ranked higher than 10th in ppg. But it's just as critical to remember Brown's pedigree w/San Antonio.

More than Carlisle, Brown is a disciple of Gregg Popovich. The Spurs never ranked higher than 12th in ppg during their championship runs and -- in fact -- finished 18th and 14th in their last 2 trophy seasons.

Because offensively & pace-wise, Brown's Cavs essentially mirrored the Spurs, with Bron reprising Duncan *and* Ginobili as CLE's go-to option in each possession. The pace was by-design, a halfcourt offense to mirror halfcourt defense. Fugly? Sure. But it wins. And it's not so much different from the defensive strengths of the triangle, where offensive spacing positioned the Lakers to get a jump on transition defense (clogging running lanes and outlet passes).

Another factor: bigs. Z aside, Brown never had anyone close to the Duncan/Robinson tandem or Duncan-solo to anchor both ends of the floor. It'll be interesting -- even & perhaps exciting -- to see what Brown can do with Pau/Drew if/when he succeeds Phil.

Took me a little while to get the display name changed. Looks like changing everything the way I want it, and then logging out and then signing back in is working.

Good luck trying to handle jack me now, LOL...

Coach Brown sure was an unexpected smack to the face. I agree with wanting a strong defensive coach. It's the easiest way to win games and go far in the playoffs. Having said that, it's fair for me to be skeptical of this. He might last two seasons. If he wins a title, he buys himself more time.

Since I think his rope is 2 seasons long at most, I think giving him a 3 year deal with a team option for a 4th (which includes guaranteed money in the 4th year) is a bit over the top. These terms should be tied to performance. As far as I know, there's no CBA on coaches contracts.

You either want arguably the highest coaching job in the NBA, or you don't. If you want it, you need to tie your tenure to performance, IMO.

But do we even have the players to make another legitimate run at a title?

testing

I like Mike Brown. He's a good coach. It's a no win situation losing Phil Jackson, but to get a good young coach like Mike Brown is about as good as can be done.

This is Rocky by the way. I guess this is my new name for now. Till I learn how to change it.

Go Lakers!

Yeah, a good coach is needed... but our players must also bring their best by being honest and eager to play, win and die as a team! I didn't really feel it this season. Despite the fact they have been there before with Phil and his coaching staff but I still believe something was lost or broken mentally during this season. We ended up losing 4 - 0 against Dallas!! I was sick and quiet after the last game...even the one we lost against Boston with a margin of 30 points was not as painful as that one....The possibility of a 3-peat gone: No fighting spirit, no pride...etc. Damn, too easy!!
For me, players are the ultimate answer...we got good veteran ones but it's always a matter of motivation and chemistry...and avoiding a lot of distractions on and off the court.

Coach Brown...wish you the best of luck. Now let's see how players gonna respond to this new challenge!
Wait and see....

LakerTom and Edwin Gueco...Loyals soldiers, keep up the good work guys!!
Mark Medina...you're doing an amazing good! I almost forgot the K Bros era!

I always read our lakerblog. Today, I came out from the darkness to share with you my pain and my optimism for next year. Go lakers!!

Guy Owanlele

I know Van Gundy is a complete tool, but that Knicks team was pretty tough. Sure, Riley laid the foundation, but it was successful.

Isn't it funny how the Busses always think about Showtime - when the father of Showtime, Pat Riley, was smart enough to know it couldn't be replicated without Magic Johnson and the thoroughbred Lakers of the 80s. Riley's team of the 90s was way different than his team of the 80s. His 06 champions were yet a third style.

Just like coaching is a game of adjustments, Riley's style as a coach was also adjusting depending on his personnel.

Will M. Brown (not to be confused with L. Brown) be able to adjust like that?

I doubt it.

PJ and Riley are two monstrous class acts that we've been blessed with. The rest have been woefully short. That's not very good odds in general. Therefore, I'm not optimistic here. Hope I'm wrong in every way possible.

hiring mike brown is a safe choice for L.A. grant it he's never won a title coaching, although he's been coach of the year. if defense is his forte, then i'm all for him. the problem is, the Lakers can play great defense when they want to. but as for playing solid D, night in and night out. L.A. really hasn't don that. brown does have a solid resume. he's not my first choice, brian shaw was. we'll see how it all unfolds!

forget about the coach guys, how about some decent players? or how about any news on our current players working really hard to come back next year!??

there hasnt been any news on the players so far after the early playoff exit!!

Mr Medina, would you please post some threads about our players and what they are doing now on their off season!?

all this coaching search has got me going crazy,

Dosnt Mike brown kinda look like Fat Albert?

how can you guys say his a good coach if he had Lebronz on his team, and every single play that he called, the ball went to Lebrons hands, do you think he can coach our Lakers like that? give the ball to KOBE? we have too many good players for that!! interesting to see how thats gonna work out! I mean the rest of the Cavs stink, when Lebronz was there, all those players shined, but now that Lebronz is gone, when was the last time you heard of Athwan Jamison, or Mo williams or Moon, or Verajao.... umm NEVER so yeah, well see what happens if BROWN gets chosen!

testing (mclyne)

I'm very surprised about the Mike Brown hiring.

I don't really know a whole lot about the guy to make a judegement yet.

I do know that he led those Cavs teams to a lot of wins with LeBron being their only dependable offensive threat. Talent wise, he has a much better group of guys to work with this time around.

I sure hope some sort of cap numbers will be revealved sooner than later. We need to trade for D.Will, CP3, or Felton. We need to do this sooner than later.

[This is Jon K., by the way. Hate this login thing.]

NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!!!!!!

Gosh stupid darn fricken darn stupid darn!!!!!

FRICK!!!!!

Mike Brown? Mike Brown?

IDIOTS!!!!

Okay, guys, I spent year interned in fricken Ohio being forced to watch Cavs games. Let me let you in on a little secret... the guy doesn't coach.

He doesn't coach.

He STRESSES DEFENSE but he doesn't really coach.

LeBron was the defacto coach on that team, okay? Everyone clear on this now.

MIKE BROWN DOESN'T RUN AN OFFENSE!!!!!

LEBRON RAN THE OFFENSE!!!!

So, what's going to happen if Mike Brown is our coach? Kobe will effectively be the offensive player/coach of the team. THAT'S what's going to happen. We all know what that means: Every play goes through Kobe and Kobe ends up taking way too many shots instead of maturing into a facilitator as he should.

It means a fourth seed in the playoffs and getting kicked out in the second round of the playoffs next year. That's what it means.

Mike Brown is a nice guy, but completely the wrong choice to be our coach.

Insanely wrong.

INSANELY WRONG!!!!!

BAD FRICKEN IDEA.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

I support the hiring of Mike Brown, especially if we bring in a strong offensively minded assistant coach. One thing Brown isn't given enough credit for is how he developed Zydrunas Ilgausaks (spelling?) who became a very efficient offensive player even though he's not exactly fleet of foot, as they say.

So, I think Brown makes sense. He's young, he's hungry...he's got something to prove too. Call this one a hire for his upside, just like guys will sometimes get drafted for their upside. His youth, however, might be the right counter-balance to an aging team. The fact he worked with Artest before might also be a factor, and Brown might be able to get more out of RonRon that Jackson was.

I have to say that I really don't think that Adelman is the right man for the Lakers. Great coach, no doubt about it...but I don't see him having the passion to inspire this sometimes very passionless crew.

[Jon K. by the way. Urgh. Hate this.]

Can my day really get any worse?

Mike Brown?

Is Jim Buss that retarded?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Posted by: JonTheK | May 25, 2011 at 11:59 AM

yeah JON K. agree with you, read the above posts regarding his coaching credentials, i litteraly said the same thing, he had lebronz and that was his offense, nothing more!!

"Mike Brown has no offense. It was give the ball to Lebron and let him do whatever he did with it. Lakers need someone who knows the personnel and how to utilize them. Mike Brown is not it in my opinion."

Posted by: Mike Marohn | May 25, 2011 at 09:57

I AGREE. I mean, it was LeCrab on every play. Sickening.

Just say NO to Brown!

@Guy Owanlele - Thanks for the compliments. They definitely mean a lot.

@Tech N9ne - I do plan on highlighting the offseason ventures once that time comes. But for now, most of them are actually on vacation. Also, we've been kind of consumed with the coaching search


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