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Lakers Q&A: Trey Johnson discusses Mike Brown's hire with the Lakers

Photo: Kings guard Beno Udrih dives on a loose ball in front of Lakers guard Trey Johnson in the fourth quarter Wednesday night in Sacramento. Credit: Cary Edmondson / US Presswire / April 13, 2011 Below is a conversation with Lakers guard Trey Johnson, whom the Lakers recalled April 13 from the Bakersfield Jam. Johnson also had a short stint in 2009 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who signed him to two 10-day contracts. Although his role was limited, Johnson has particular insight in playing for both Phil Jackson and Mike Brown, who coached Cleveland for five seasons and recently was chosen as the Lakers' head coach.

You've been on both sides of the coin, playing under Mike with Cleveland and last season under Phil. How would you compare the two experiences as far as what they brought?

Definitely different guys, but at the same time, they're similar in how they run their practices. Everybody's accountable from a standpoint that you have to hold yourself accountable. I don't think the atmosphere will change much in the sense of it being a professional mindset and you get your work in. But they're different. Phil is definitely a cerebral guy. The way he prepares for a game is a lot different than the way Mike prepares for a game. But you still get the same ending results in the fact we're winning games. Of course Mike hasn't won a championship as a head coach, but he was [an assistant] under Gregg Popovich and he has a great future. It was great. I saw two different sides of the spectrum, but they were both great guys and were winning guys. Both had great personalities. It's going to be interesting. Hopefully I'm part of it again.

What did Mike Brown bring to the Cavaliers?

He's definitely a leader. I liked the way he did it. He's not going to be that much different from Phil in ... that he allows players to be professionals and treats everybody in a respectful manner. It's not a dictatorship or anything like that. It's a great working atmosphere. That stood out to me from a professional standpoint. He really is a defensive coach. He focuses and stresses defense, but he creates the atmosphere where you want to get your extra work in. It's not an atmosphere where you feel like, "Ugh, I have to get these shots up" or "Ugh, I have to do extra work." It's a very fun, working atmosphere. It makes you want to work and get better.

What's his defensive philosophy?

We always had a saying that was interesting to me in Cleveland: "Contest a shot. Nobody shoots a wide open jump shot." He'd say, "I don't care if you're so late and you feel like you can't even get to it. You have to at least run out there and try. You have to go to the shooter and at least contest the shot." That was big. We were always contesting shots. No one was shooting open shots. He's a grinder. He wants to make this game as tough as possible for our opponent. Let's pack it in and fight over screens and let's be animals on defense. His biggest thing was contesting shots.

How did he get everyone to buy into what he wanted on defense?

That started with LeBron. He developed a relationship with LeBron and he went to LeBron from the beginning before I got there where he said, "Offensively, you're extremely gifted, but we need you defensively. You can be just as good defensively as you are offensively." LeBron bought into that. When your best player buys into that, it's real easy for the rest of the team. That won't be a problem with the Lakers. Kobe is one of the best defenders in the league and he enjoys that end of the floor. It will be interesting for those two to work together.

How do you think that dynamic will work?

I think it can work. Mike Brown is a respected coach in my eyes in the sense of what he's done in the short time he's been a head coach. I think he's been tremendous. Of course, Kobe is a Hall of Famer. Both of them are basketball guys and their basketball IQs are extremely high. That's where they're going to connect in the sense of game-planning and what's expected in what kind of team he wants to establish as a Mike Brown Lakers team. I think it's going to be very good to see.

Going back to LeBron, what stood out with his interactions with Mike and how they worked together?

It was a very open relationship. Mike is open. Mike doesn't say, "This is the way it has to be done and this is the only way." He's very understanding of the game and players and their personalities. That's the biggest thing at a professional level, managing personalities. He understood how to interact and deal with LeBron. LeBron was very respectful of Mike in return. It wasn't like him being a superstar player and he makes all this money and the coach can't say anything. It wasn't that way. LeBron had a lot of respect for Mike Brown and it showed in their relationship.

So it was more of a give-and-take between both of them? Of course. You got to be that way, especially when you have someone like LeBron, how young he was when Mike first coached him. You have to be open. You can't be one way.

What was Mike's philosophy on offense? He liked getting up and down. But it wasn't what he stressed. He liked to push the ball because of the athletes we had and the type of team we had at the time. It was a basic offense. We did a lot of things to get the ball to LeBron, of course. So I imagine there will be a lot of things to get Kobe the ball. That'll probably be a little different because John Kuester was an assistant when I was there. He was the offensive guy. Somebody asked me if he's going to run the triangle and I was like, "I don't think he's going to run the triangle."

What was your reaction that you heard he was going to be the Lakers coach?

I was excited. I'm happy for him. I not only think he's a great coach, he's a great guy. He is a truly great guy and professional. Maybe it works out for me in the end. But I think it's a good move by Mitch Kupchak and Jerry and Jim Buss. That's a great move. Of course, playing for [Brian] Shaw, I didn't know what was going to happen. I thought he was next in line. But you can't go wrong on either end. The first time I knew Mike Brown was being auditioned for the job was when he got it. But when it happened, I thought it was a great move. I thought he or B Shaw would be a great move. I don't think you can go wrong with either one of them, but I think the Lakers did a great job with finding someone who will get the job done. He will do a great job.

Have you talked to anyone on the team since the announcement was made?

I haven't spoken to anyone since the announcement was made, so I'm not sure of everyone's feelings about it. I can only imagine they're excited about it. They're professionals. This is our coach.

There's a lot of concerns about Mike's hire from the media, including myself, and the fans, namely with how he's going to handle all the pressure with replacing Phil, the extra distractions that go on in L.A., managing egos and how he would run the offense. How would you address those concerns?

Anybody they would have brought in, there would have been legitimate concerns strictly because it is L.A. It is the Lakers. Those are big shoes to fill. You're coming behind Phil Jackson, who is the greatest coach of all time, and the Lakers organization is one of the top franchises in NBA history. Anybody that you'd bring in would bring legitimate concerns from a fan standpoint. The fans are the people that come out and pay for a certain product to be put on the floor. They have the right to ask those questions. But I just say, give him a fair chance. It's OK to ask those questions, but this is a guy who has proven himself. He has dealt with one of the highest-profile players to ever come through the league with LeBron. To come in and deal with Kobe and other guys and the L.A. atmosphere, I know it's going to be different. But I think Mike can handle that job.

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Photo: Kings guard Beno Udrih dives on a loose ball in front of Lakers guard Trey Johnson in the fourth quarter Wednesday night in Sacramento. Credit: Cary Edmondson / US Presswire / April 13, 2011

 
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let me clarify - I think it would've been helpful to consult Bryant for a variety of reasons. 1. It's good to give a courtesy heads up on who they're hiring so Bryant can then tell his teammates before they find out through the media. 2. Asking Bryant's input doesn't mean he's part of the panel selecting coaches. It's simply part of the research process. Mitch had acknowledged last year that Kobe was helpful during free agency with telling him the lay of the land. Sure that's different because it involves players. But it still should be part of their due diligence in doing their homework. The fact that the Lakers held exactly ONE interview with a coach is troubling. This is one of the most prestigious coaching positions in all of sports and they pull the trigger after interviewing ONE guy? Doesn't make any sense. 3. Sure, Phil gave Kobe the freedom. But it was also a balancing act. There were plenty of times Phil pulled him in to reestablish control. My problem with Brown is I don't know how much he'll really stand up to Kobe. I feel like he's going to be afraid of him.

Posted by: Mark Medina | May 26, 2011 at 08:57 PM

MM very nicely done, I just dont get why these people would just side step Kobe like his a newcomer or something, the guys been with you for 15 years and filled your seats with fans wanting to see the black mamba then you go and walk all over him like he didnt do nothing for LA? this Jim guy must be freaking nuts man, wheres JERRY BUSS we need him right now, not his freaking KID...

but very good post non the less MM, also how many people sport analysts and writer said what we have been saying yesterday??? you have the twitter thread, everyone go read, almost every single analyst said that even is kobe should be consulted, you should have gave him a heads up...

but hey what do the writers and espn analysts know right?
lol

Tech N9ne,

re: MM very nicely done, I just dont get why these people would just side step Kobe like his a newcomer or something, the guys been with you for 15 years and filled your seats with fans wanting to see the black mamba then you go and walk all over him like he didn't do nothing for LA? this Jim guy must be freaking nuts man, wheres JERRY BUSS we need him right now, not his freaking KID...

my response: they side step him because they detest him and everything
he stands for. They vilify him because he's not Magic. They harangue him
because he dared to model himself after MJ and has had some success. They loathe
him because he ignores their false ideas of propriety. Finally they must
piss on him because by winning he mocks their self-importance.

Or their just ignorant buffoons. take your pick. :)

Trade Bryant while he still has value


@LEO GOOSE ... Thanks for your response. I’m curious as what your old blog name was. As for trading Drew for Dwight, I can easily understand your position and were finances and role not part of the decision, I would find it hard not to agree to trading Drew for Dwight. I’ve never claimed that Drew was a better center than Dwight, just that he is a better fit on this team and would cost less.
...
I think your analysis that a lot of the anger and fury over Brown’s selection is the nasty afterbirth of the team’s collapse in the playoffs and Phil’s inanely smiling and insanely frustrating departure. I would have been satisfied with Adelman as coach but also like that Jerry, Jim, and Mitch all seemed to want to bring in a defense and teamwork oriented coach rather than an offensive guru.
...
Honestly, I’ve personally never really liked the Defense Wins Championships mantra. It’s a cliché that ignores the interaction and continuity and how defense and offense interweave during a game. The far better slogan or motto in my opinion is Teamwork Wins Championships, which recognizes that winning requires successful execution, chemistry, and synergy at both ends of the court.
..................................
TOM

@MM... One of the real cool features of the new login system is that when you click on any blogger’s name, you go to his TypePad page, which then has a running log of all of the bloggers previous posts.

Posted by: LakerTom | May 27, 2011 at 11:27 AM
--------------------

That is cool. Thanks for the heads up!

Or their just ignorant buffoons. take your pick. :)

Posted by: hobbitmage | May 27, 2011 at 11:44 AM

ahaha thats what I've been saying.
Were not mad at Brown hiring, which a lot of people on here dont get, I'm not arguing about that, what I'm saying is, Kobe is your franchise player, dont walk all over him...

that is all, and basically how me, MM, Tim have been saying all along, dont ignore the guy who gave 5 rings to LA...

@ Mark M

Did you interview Tray in person? if so I noticed by reading the above thread, that you kind of tried to get something out of Trey regarding MB's offense, and it seems like he only answered you in a form of defense.

But heres the paragraph I like, which we have been saying the past couple of days that MB dosnt have any offense, sure he can be a good defensive minded coach but where is the offense, and what Trey said matches what we have been saying...

"What was Mike's philosophy on offense? He liked getting up and down. But it wasn't what he stressed. He liked to push the ball because of the athletes we had and the type of team we had at the time. It was a basic offense. We did a lot of things to get the ball to LeBron, of course. So I imagine there will be a lot of things to get Kobe the ball. That'll probably be a little different because John Kuester was an assistant when I was there. He was the offensive guy. Somebody asked me if he's going to run the triangle and I was like, "I don't think he's going to run the triangle."


whats Spolestras offense? give the ball to LBJ, DSPADE, and the Lizard from the drink SOBE lol

yeah good fit for LA for sure ;)

@MM - Excellent interview with Trey. It'll be interesting to hear what Ron and Shannon have to same about their experiences in playing for coach Brown.


@LT/Leo Goose - I share your sentiment in cringing at the Mike Brown backlash. But like you guys stated people would've complained also if it was BShaw, Adelman or Van Gundy. That only universal opinion I read on the blog was that nobody wanted Dunleavy hired.

As far as the criticism that Jim Buss is receiving...I think most of it stems from him not giving Kobe a heads up on the hiring. His other major decision (drafting Drew) has turned out to be very astute. Like Mike Brown, Jim Buss is replacing a legend. I'm not completely sold on his capabilities, but as a Laker fan he gets the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise.

Tom, I tend to agree with you on the idea that teamwork rather than just "defense" is what wins championships.

Chicago was a great defensive team, and on that end of the floor they really displayed great teamwork. Offensively, however, they were actually very much like Mike Brown's teams in Cleveland--dominated by one truly phenomenal player. However, the thing that makes me hopeful about Brown in L.A. is that he took a vastly less talented roster than what Thibodeau has to the finals, and twice to the best record in the league. In short, he did more than Thibs with significantly less talent. That's a good sign....

Drew for Dwight is unlikely to happen for the reasons you stated, and I'm not too keen on any of the possible combinations that would be required to make that deal happen. And that's cool. I'm worried about Drew's injury potential, but aside from that I can be perfectly content with a still-improving 23 year old center.

I used to post under "God" but that didn't work for whatever reason under the new system, which is fine (it was a joke at first, but I think it turned some people off...).

http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=7276

As you can see, this result seems to bear out the old adage that "Defense Wins Championships"; for instance, to have the exact same title odds as a team with an average offense and a defense that was 5.0 pts/100 poss better than average, an average defensive team would have to score 7.7 more pts/100 poss than average!


Boston's dominance during that stretch could possibly be inflating our sense of whether defensive teams are more likely to win because: A) Their defense was so historically outstanding in the Bill Russell era; and B) Their offense was so mediocre (they were below-average in 7 of the 13 years listed above!). To avoid the possibility of this skewing our sample, let's re-run the regression using only results since the 1976 ABA-NBA merger (and using the traditional possessions formula rather than the historical estimation):

However, the continued prominence of defense even when we drop the heavily D-oriented Celtics dynasty from the sample does suggest that, all things being equal, teams should prioritize excellence at that end of the court if they want to win a championship.

Kobe Bryant's life I am guessing has been the antithesis of Jim Buss' life so far. Bryant had an accomplished father (hey Jelly Bean had an NBA and overseas career few ever make the NBA). But Kobe far surpassed him with his desire and hard work. He is not an athletic freak like LeBron or Shaq but his work ethic is triple theirs. Nothing was given to Kobe, it was earned.

Jim Buss on the other hand did nothing to get in his position to make decisions on the Lakers other than being born. It is almost the exact polar opposite.

So what to do? Ideally Jim could admire and respect Kobe and strive to learn from him and emulate him in dedication and hard work. Is Kobe perfect? Not even close. He isn't even the perfect teammate, but I think most people could learn from him. Very few people in any field of work, work as hard as him.

Or Jim could be intimated, feel belittled by Kobe, feel that he is the better man, and want to use his given not earned power to make up for his feelings of inadequacy. It is mind boggling to me that I am spending so much time on what kind of person Jim is, but this might actually define the Lakers for the coming decades.

And we should be VERY, VERY afraid. The cleaning house of many loyal wonderful Laker employees should never have happened. I've felt sad for Jerry Buss for years that he seems to spend so much time gambling. Maybe he is a shell of former self. I can't believe though that Jerry is letting this happen. He needs to call Jim in say whoa this is not the way the Lakers do things.

Jim in the last couple of weeks is starting to wipe out decades of what Jerry built. The not consulting Kobe, the cleaning of the Laker house. Again perhaps Mike Brown was an ok decision from a basketball standpoint but everything else going down and HOW it went down should make any Laker fan, anyone who cares about them very, very concerned.

I hope, beyond hope, maybe Jerry can teach him some values before he is too far gone to reign in Darth Jim. Maybe we can all beg Jerry to put Jeanie in charge.

Think about this. Does anyone know who owned the Celtics during their dynasty? Or even during their good run during the Bird years? I know Red but I don't think he was the owner. Sadly in pro sports owners dictate a large part of the fate of a franchise. But mostly when they get too involved and then it is almost always in a negative way. Most of the good owners hire great people and get out of the way. Jerry signed checks made good hires and let Jerry West, Mitch, the coaches, and the players get to work.

And he showed immense gravitas in hiring Phil again even though there seems to be huge back story among the Buss family and Phil. In the end he made basketball decisions for the best for the Lakers and their fans, not his ego. We should be very dismayed that Jim is showing to be the EXACT opposite. Jerry would get Dwight, Jim will not. Jim needed a coach that is no threat to him, Jerry got the best coach. I am sure Jerry has a huge ego, but at his core he did not let his ego control him. Jim is letting his ego control him. I am afraid we are in for some bad times Laker fans, unless Jim has some Obi Wan to get him away from the dark, petty, juvenile, egomanical, insecure road he seems to be going down.

MM: good get, catching up with Trey J.

I think he is the kind of player who can thrive under Brown; also, it is likely that he can bring something to next year's edition that he wasn't able to under Phil: athleticism, ability to create his own shot, more speed. I feel optimistic about his prospects, but we shall see...

@ Posted by: Larry Diamond | May 27, 2011 at 12:22 PM

WOW Larry I'm impressed by the post, good job. You make some very good points, and I hope certain people will read it and understand, that the dawn of new age for Lakerland is coming, and you cant help but ask WHY???? HOW??? and WHEN?? all this uncertanty of whats to come this upcoming year, will make any Laker fan crazy, there are so many questions but there arn't any answeres.

about blowing up Lakers managment and Staff, I personally was very disappointed, its all started with Karrem AJ and his statue thing, and now all our assistant coaches, and athletic trainers are gone, because of one mans ego...

Its a new raod for us, laid out by Jimmy boy, well see what will happen, he was a strong advocate to get BYNUM but he didnt take BYNUMs knees under consideration...

[This is Jon K. by the way.]

Here's the thing...

Phil was a pain in the butt for management because he has a huge ego and is headstrong. It was probably trying for the Buss' to deal with him especially since he was having sex with their daughter/sister.

So, Jim Buss hires a solid "good guy" in Mike Brown in the hopes that he'll be able to have more direct influenc upon how the team is run.

However, since Mike Brown basically let LeBron James run all over him, Jim Buss has forgetten that the advantage of Phil Jackson is that he was able to manage the collosal ego of Kobe Bryant--who is far more competitive than LeBron James.

So... Jim Buss has basically taken away any person who could function as a healthy bulwark between players and management. Thus lead to potentially catestrophic consequences as Jim Buss does not automatically engender the same degree of respect as Dr. Jerry Buss.

Great. Just fricken great.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

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

GO LAKERS!!!

Thanks for the kudos on the interview. I talked to Trey over the phone this morning.

Whats up Jon?

" EVERYONE TOGETHER OKAY!??? GUYS WE NEED DEFENSE!?!? OKAY?? "

yeah Jon I remember that ahahah very funny

@Larry Diamond - intesting post on Jim Buss. That is a red flag when someone like Ronnie Lester is let go. I thought most of the other employees were let go in preparation for the potential strike....and would be brought back...if/when the new CBA is agreed on.

Most of us agree that Jerry Buss is a brilliant businessman. If that is the case how do we justify him turning the company over to Jim (if Jim is indeed as incompetent as you're stating). I guess what I'm saying is that if Dr. Buss son is that bad, then Dr. Buss has to shoulder most of the blame for putting him in charge.

ahahah theres something I did not notice...

on this thread, in the picture provided...

dosn't it look like that Trey is reaching for anything other than the ball? lol where do you get these pictures MM ahaha cracked me up

The pics are stored in their archives. Haha you have a twisted mind. I didn't think of that until you brought it up

@ MM

Ahahaha I know, I actually read the thread, and posted some comments but I didnt really pay attention to the picture lol thats why I just felt like sayin it, I dont have a twisted mind, dont you know? A Picture is worth thousand words. HAHAHA

I understand that "defense" is the watchword for Lakerland these days.

But weren't they a top 10 defensive team each of the last 4 seasons?

I think fatigue and focus were factors in LA's demise moreso than a systemic defect in the defense. They played 100 games/year for 4 years. I'm underwhelmed by MB's calling card being defense because statistically they've played very good defense for a while. They just unraveled at the end of their run, which also happened in 2003.

They'll definitely need a few adjustments at point and on the perimeter, but overall, I think we're overstating this defensive problem. More rest over a long summer will restore defensive intensity. Mike Brown can help that, but he won't create it out of whole cloth. These guys already know how to play it at an extemely high level, as the last game of the 2010 season shows. They ran out of gas.

I understand that "defense" is the watchword for Lakerland these days.

But weren't they a top 10 defensive team each of the last 4 seasons?

I think fatigue and focus were factors in LA's demise moreso than a systemic defect in the defense. They played 100 games/year for 4 years. I'm underwhelmed by MB's calling card being defense because statistically they've played very good defense for a while. They just unraveled at the end of their run, which also happened in 2003.

They'll definitely need a few adjustments at point and on the perimeter, but overall, I think we're overstating this defensive problem. More rest over a long summer will restore defensive intensity. Mike Brown can help that, but he won't create it out of whole cloth. These guys already know how to play it at an extemely high level, as the last game of the 2010 season shows. They ran out of gas.

Posted by: peace | May 27, 2011 at 03:39 PM
============

I agree with this post 100%. A lot has been said about lack of defense thereoff, or intensity, or chemistry. But the glaring fact is that, this Lakers team has had too much of a millage on their collective legs the last 4 years. They were due for downtime.

Rest up my Lakers! Go Kobe! Go Lakers!

-dice8up here


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