ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin reports the Lakers have completed the interview process in their search for a coach to succeed Phil Jackson as head coach, and at the top of the list is former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. Via ESPN.com's Chris Broussard, Brown and the Lakers are discussing salary terms, but calling it a done deal is premature:
"... Sources told Broussard that while a deal could be struck as early as Wednesday, it's also possible a deal will not happen if Brown does not get enough security -- in terms of years and money -- to empower him as coach. No formal offer has been extended to Brown however, according to an individual with knowledge of the negotiating process. At least one source close to the process said he believed the Lakers might prefer one candidate right now, but "it might be a game of chicken" and the team could move on to another candidate very quickly if negotiations do not go well..."
Next in line appear to be Rick Adelman and Mike Dunleavy, with Brian Shaw's candidacy falling behind. That Shaw would find himself on the outs doesn't surprise me. Nothing about the organization's posture since the end of the season indicates they've been particularly enamored with turning the keys over to a) a first time head coach, and b) a holdover from the Jackson era. While both appreciate the results, neither Dr. Buss nor Jim Buss have ever been passionate advocates of Jackson's system. As P.J. noted in his exit interview, he didn't speak to Jim Buss at all during the season.
Reading the tea leaves, despite support from Kobe Bryant and beyond, Shaw never seems to have garnered most-favored nation status. Keep in mind as well Brown is still a leading candidate for the Golden State Warriors job, so just as it is with free agent players, it's certainly possible one side could be leveraging the other (Brown to encourage the Warriors or any other team to move more aggressively on him, the Lakers to get a different candidate to agree to more favorable contract terms, to name two hypotheticals).
As for Brown, like most of the readers filling our Twitter feed, I have my reservations. He's an excellent defensive coach, something the Lakers could obviously use, but there were serious and legitimate questions about his offensive creativity and, perhaps more importantly, Brown's ability to manage egos. Nor do I like what would appear to be major departure from the system making them so successful over the last few seasons, and wonder how L.A.'s personnel fits with what Brown wants to do. On the other hand, while it's not an award I put a whole lot of stock in, Brown has been a Coach of the Year ('08-'09) and ran up a .663 winning percentage with the Cavs. Clearly, if Brown is this far into the process with the Lakers, he sold them on plans to effectively use what the Lakers are likely to have next season.
Fair or not, though, Brown received tons of flak for the ways in which Cleveland failed through their postseason runs in the LeBron James era. In L.A., Brown would have far more frontcourt skill at his disposal than he ever had with the Cavs, which obviously can make any coach look a lot smarter and is a factor that can't be overlooked. As Jackson himself noted in the same exit interview, talent is what wins in the NBA.
At best he'd be a controversial hire, and would have a great deal of work ahead of him to win over the faithful. Really, what the Brown news emphasizes is how underwhelming the coaching pool seems to be. Virtually anyone they could hire would by definition be a major step down from Jackson on the Gravitas Meter (only Coach K would be an exception, and that ain't happening). No candidate, from Brown to Adelman to Shaw and beyond, feels flawed in some important way.
Still, while I don't think it would automatically bring disaster and Brown does have his positives (on defense, primarily), I can't stay he tops my list, for what it's worth. Nor is he second.
Broussard breaks things down in the video below...