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Chris Paul non-trade: Lakers' Mike Brown meets adversity

December 9, 2011 |  7:44 am

Mike BrownMike Brown's first season as the Lakers' coach won't be defined by his DVDs explaining his defensive concepts, his grinding mentality or his infectious enthusiasm.

Those will be ingredients. But most of Brown's success or failure with the Lakers will hinge on how he handles adversity. His first test has nothing to do with managing a tough losing streak or an upset Kobe Bryant. It has everything to do with the fallout surrounding the Lakers' three-team trade that would've sent Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom to New Orleans and brought Chris Paul to the Lakers. 

With the NBA nixing the deal, Brown has to assuage a hurt and distrusting Odom and Gasol enough so that they feel the Lakers' coach values their services, let alone report to training camp. He must tap into the teammate support and show them he's on their side. And, somehow, Brown must use this as a motivational tool for the Lakers' 2011-12 season.

All this with the backdrop that the Lakers could deal Odom and Gasol to another team anyway.

Had Phil Jackson remained head coach, it's possible he would've united his players against the Lakers' front office, much like he did in his final season with the Chicago Bulls against General Manager Jerry Krause and owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Brown certainly doesn't have that personality, and considering how he's followed the company line ever since his hire, it's unlikely he'll conspire against Mitch Kupchak and the Buss family. 

But Brown has an opportunity to show he's genuine about trying to earn players' respect and trust by first giving it to them, and that means more than just feel-good, coach-speak. Some ways include devoting the first offensive sets to the high-post plays that involves Gasol. Brown could grant Odom more playing time as a starter beyond Andrew Bynum's five-game suspension. He could immediately talk with Bryant and Derek Fisher, giving them ownership of keeping the locker room in high spirits. 

Despite the challenges the Lakers face with a 66-game schedule, Brown would have benefited from the Lakers likely reporting to training camp motivated by last season's Western Conference semifinals loss to the Dallas Mavericks. But his tenure will be defined, in part, by how he maintains his players' respect in the face of the team's first significant losing streak or the first controversy -- and that controversy is now here. That's because this veteran-laden group could naturally start doubting Brown's credentials, since they have more championship rings than he has. 

It remains to be seen how the Lakers' current roster will respond to everything surrounding the nixed trade. But they will surely look to see how Brown will handle it, an opportunity he must embrace and pass.


Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom must channel frustration properly

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Mike Brown must manage five things to succeed as Lakers coach

--Mark Medina

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Photo credit: Associated Press