Tag:coaching
Posted on: May 25, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 7:41 pm
 

Lakers' decisions reflect a season of change

The Lakers' front office is taking on a new direction under Jerry Buss' son, Jim Buss. Changes are happening all over the NBA, and the Lakers are no exception. Will a new course of action lead to the old standard of championships for the purple and gold? 

Posted by Matt Moore




The Celtics and Lakers? Gone from the secound round with only a single win between them. The Spurs? Closed out in the first round by Memphis (Memphis!).  Derrick Rose won the MVP at 22 years of age, Kevin Durant was the scoring champion and both of them made the Conference Finals. Those Conference Finals? They featured exactly zero of the following: Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol, or Steve Nash (or Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, or Carmelo Anthony, but don't interupt me, I'm rolling). 

Things are changing in the NBA. There's a lockout on the horizon which will dramatically shift the course of how business is done in the league, new superpowers are taking shape as an era of collaborative superstardom takes hold, and LeBron James is clutch. It's a terrifying new world out there. 

And right in line with those changes is what we've seen from the Los Angeles Lakers both in their dismal collapse to end their chance at a three-peat and  in their decision to hire Mike Brown as their new head coach after Phil Jackson rode off into the peyote sunset. 

Let's begin with a story reviewing the coaching search process five days ago on May 19th in the Los Angeles Times

The Lakers were once the managerial gold standard, with Jerry Buss' vision and Jerry West as in-house legend and basketball boss of bosses.

Now Buss defers largely to his son Jim, who, let's hope, checks with West's protege, Kupchak.

Not surprisingly, given Jim's inclinations — remember bringing Rudy Tomjanovich out of retirement as the game's highest-paid coach in 2004? — this started as a star search.
via Coach selection, and the Lakers' future, is in owners' hands - Los Angeles Times.

Where once Jerry Buss, the most influential owner of the past thirty plus years, handled the mechanics of keeping the Lakers high-powered star factory pumping out championship gold for Buss to enjoy while he wrapped his arms around his younger friends, now the son is trying to establish himself as "the man in charge." The younger Buss has been the key decision maker for a while, but this represents more than just a "business as usual" handling of the Lakers' day-to-day operations or short-term evaluations.  The change here is not just one of replacing a Hall of Fame coach with a respected, though resume-questionable coach. It's a move away in a systemic approach.

Consider that Brian Shaw is right there. A nice, safe continuation of the success the Lakers have enjoyed over the past four seasons. The Triangle offense, the familiarity with the players, the cool comfort of continuity. And Jim Buss completely swerved away from all of that. Rick Adelman was right there. The coach with the best resume, the best track record, a similar offensive approach as the Lakers have been operating under. A star-worthy coach for a franchise that has always accepted nothing but the best. And Jim Buss and Kupchak elected to pass over the best coach on the market.

The reasons will be myriad as to why this was a good hire, but nothing as forthright and easy to point to as defense. Dallas shot the lights out to put the Lakers underground, so the tactical response is to bring in a defensive general to fortify the paint. The offense will sort itself out, right? Except this isn't a team with great natural chemistry and ball movement offensively. It never has been. Kobe Bryant has always been the tiger trying to bust out of the Triangle's cage. Yes, Pau Gasol operated well in the corner system but how will he respond to having to freelance more and make more decisions with increased pressure after this season's epic collapse. Is a looser construct really what's going to be best for Ron Artest, he who Staples screams "No!" whenever he pauses to consider a three? And at its core, do you want Bryant, who continues to show signs of the inevitable downslide of aging and a stubborn refusal to adapt his game, or his field goal attempts, accordingly, free to do as he pleases? 

But then, Bryant in particular is of note in this story. Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated reported on Wednesday:
 
The source close to the Lakers told SI.com that Kobe Bryant was "surprised" by the news of the team's interest in Brown late Tuesday, and that he was not a part of the decision-making process. Bryant had been a staunch supporter of Lakers assistant Brian Shaw for the position.

via Lakers name Mike Brown new head coach - Sam Amick - SI.com.

The star, the Hall of Famer, the next statue, and he's not consulted on the coach that will be in charge for his final years, presumably? That's a deviation from the standard, and a slap in the face. The Lakers shouldn't require Kobe Bryant's permission, approval, or support to hire Mike Brown. But to not even factor that into the decision making?

There's a clear step being made here by Jim Buss to head away from the last few years which saw Jackson, while dating Buss' sister Jeanie, running the show from high atop the special chair. Not hiring Shaw, not consulting Bryant, signing Brown to a four-year deal which guarantees Brown will be around at least through two more years (anything more is too much salary to surrender in dead money in the event of a firing). There's a very clear indication that Jim Buss is trying to make a statement of his own and show that his vision is just as good, if different from his father's. 

You'd almost wonder if he hasn't been incepted, or something, with this series of decisions.

Is Mike Brown a good coach? Absolutely. In Atlanta (yes, this is assuming a coach who had the Bulls offer him everything but Derrick Rose in the way of a chance to win is fired eventually), he would have been great. In Houston, he would have taken a talented veteran group and overachieved with defense. In Golden State, even, he likely would have given them the defensive personality to make the playoffs. His defensive chops cannot be questioned. But this is a coach who could not contain LeBron James. Granted, no one can, but that was a player with no real reason to believe he knew better. What's going to happen when Brown walks into a wary room of veterans who have won two championships with arguably the greatest coach of all time and who now are being told to listen to the guy who "couldn't win with LeBron" as ridiculous as that accusation is?

The Lakers are moving forward. There's new management at the top. There's new coaching on the sideline. But the roster remains the same, a versatile, talented, if boneheaded group of stars trying to fit together in the greatest reality show on Earth. And Mike Brown just moved into Crazy Town. We'll see if all this change means a move towards the tradition the Lakers value most: championships. 

Posted on: May 25, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 4:50 pm
 

LeBron says 'the Lakers got them a good a coach'

LeBron James endorses the Lakers' hiring of Mike Brown.

Posted by Matt Moore

There's one guy who thinks the Lakers had a slam dunk with the hiring of Mike Brown, former Cleveland Cavaliers coach after agreeing with Brown to a four-year, $18.25 million contract Wednesday. It's the man who many feel was responsible for his firing in Cleveland, his former star who created the questions about Brown's ability to manage huge egos.

It is, of course, LeBron James.

NBA.com spoke to James after practice about the then-possible hiring of Brown by the Lakers, and the former Cavs star was more than effusive with praise for his former coach.
 
“If it’s true, when it’s official,” James said, “I think the Lakers got them a great coach.”

...

“Mike Brown was a great coach,” James said. “He gave us success that we hadn’t had before in that city. And it started with his defensive concepts. He brought in a defensive mind set that we didn’t have.”

“We were competitive year after year because of his coaching. So I respect him and I’m grateful to have had him as a coach throughout the years that I had him. He definitely helped me become who I am today.”
via LeBron: ‘The Lakers got them a great coach’ « NBA.com | Hang Time Blog.

This is coming from a player who put on one of the better defensive performances we've seen individually in recent history, and there have been some impressive defensive performances in an era shared by Kevin Garnett, Ron Artest, and Dwight Howard

This is also coming from a player who many say undermined Brown not only on the floor, breaking plays, but also in the locker room, getting his way in terms of perks and positions for members of his crew in the organization, and generally running roughshod with the power granted by being a franchise player.

But James could have declined comment, just as he could have declined comment when asked about the lottery win for Cleveland. But he stuck up for his old coach and said he was happy for Cleveland to get the top pick. Nothing he say will be well received, but at least he's making the effort. 

For the Lakers, though? They had best be aware that all that defensive discipline and philosophy comes with a price, and if the veteran egos aren't willing to take a backseat to get back to the title, this may work out the same way it worked out in Cleveland.
Posted on: May 25, 2011 1:16 am
Edited on: May 25, 2011 8:27 pm
 

Lakers agree to four-year deal with Mike Brown

Report indicates Mike Brown to be hired as the next head coach of the Los Angeles LakersPosted by EOB Staff

mike-brown

Update: 8:17 p.m. 

The Los Angeles Lakers have issued a statement confirming that the team has reached an "agreement" with Mike Brown to serve as the team's next head coach. 
"In response to rampant speculation and reports about our head coaching position and Mike Brown, we’ve met with Mike and are very impressed with him.  In addition, we have an outline for an agreement in place and hope to sign a contract within the next few days."
CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports the deal is for four years and $18.25 million.

The Associated Press notes that Brown will be the 22nd coach of the Lakers and that Jim Buss, son of owner Jerry Buss, led the search process without consulting any of the Lakers players, including Kobe Bryant.
Rather than promoting one of Jackson's assistant coaches, the Lakers are changing course after an abrupt end to their two-year title reign and the long-anticipated departure of Jackson, the coach with the most championship rings in NBA history.

Although Kobe Bryant endorsed Jackson assistant Brian Shaw for the vacancy, Jim Buss - the Lakers' executive vice president of player personnel and the son of owner Jerry Buss - became intrigued by Brown after Saturday's interview.

Bryant and his teammates apparently weren't consulted during the coaching search, and Bryant declined to comment on Brown's hiring Wednesday when reached by the Los Angeles Times. Bryant publicly supported Shaw, his former Lakers teammate, but the two-time NBA finals MVP also said the Lakers should find a coach who believes in hard-nosed defense.
Bryant reportedly was "surprised" by the hiring.

On Wednesday, LeBron James, who played for Brown in Cleveland, offered his endorsement
"I think it's great," James said in Miami, where he's preparing for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.

"Mike Brown is a great coach," James said. "He brought us success that we hadn't had before in that city, and it started with his defensive concepts. He brought in a defensive mindset that we didn't have. Fifty-plus wins, he was coach of the year, he got us to the (NBA) finals, won us the Eastern Conference finals ... because of him and his coaching staff. I respect him. He definitely helped me become who I am today."
The AP also noted that Brown is known as being a defensive specialist. 
Brown's background in defense apparently intrigues the Lakers, whose last two title runs were built on sturdy defense led by Bryant and 7-foot shot-blocker Andrew Bynum, a favorite of Jim Buss. Brown is a former assistant to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, who employed Brown as his defensive coordinator in Indiana when Lakers forward Ron Artest was named the NBA's top defensive player in 2004.
Brown, 41, coached the Cavaliers from 2005-2006 to 2000-2010, winning 50-plus games in four of those five seasons. He took the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2006-2007. He was named the NBA's Coach of the Year in 2009 but parted ways with the team in the early summer of 2010, shortly before All-Star forward LeBron James left the franchise to play for the Miami Heat. Prior to his time in Cleveland, Brown was an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.

His name first surfaced with regard to the Lakers position last week. Other candidates included former Houston Rockets coach Rick Adelman, Lakers assistant Brian Shaw and former Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy.

Update 4:06 p.m.:
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com confirms the deal is done in principle. 

UPDATE: According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, the Lakers and Mike Brown are finalizing negotiations to make him the next coach. "It's close," a source said.

Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area reports that the Lakers will hire Mike Brown as their new head coach following the retirement of Phil Jackson. Steinmetz reports two sources confirming a four-year, $18 million deal for Brown. Previous reports had Brown close to a deal following owner Jerry Buss telling reporters that the Lakers were "very close" to a new head coach. 

Brown brings plusses and minuses, as he is a stellar defensive coach respected by veterans like those the Lakers have. Conversely, Brown is also a questionable offensive coach, relying on offensive assistants for help in that area. He is known as a key motivator, which the Lakers could clearly use after a lackadaisical season. But there are questions about his ability to wrangle stars after the way LeBron James dominated the situation in Cleveland. Now he faces an even more ego-heavy locker room.

There was talk the next Lakers coach would have to take a pay cut, and should the report be accurate, this is a considerable cut from what Jackson made last season, and even more so from the extension Jackson signed before the 2009 season.

There will be questions as to why Rick Adelman was not given the job, but Brown is a capable coach who fits in well with the veteran Lakers squad. It's a move for both stability and change, just what Buss was looking for.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this article. 
Posted on: May 21, 2011 3:14 am
 

Report:Lakers reach out to Adelman for head coach

Report: Lakers reach out to former Blazers/Kings/Rockets coach Rick Adelman regarding head coaching position. 

Posted by Matt Moore





The Lakers aren't just giving former Blazers/Kings/Rockets coach Rick Adelman the courtesy of being on the shortlist. They're serious about pursuing him further as they inch towards a new head coach with Phil Jackson's vacant and extremely tall seat still warm. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Lakers have reached out to make conatact with Adelman about the position after a short list was determined Tuesday. From the Times:  
The Lakers are slowly reaching out to coaching candidates, contacting Rick Adelman to officially express an interest in him to replace Phil Jackson.

The three decision-makers for the Lakers' coaching search — owner Jerry Buss and executives Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak — continued the gradual momentum from their meeting Tuesday in which they drew up an official list.
via Lakers, seeking a new coach, make contact with Rick Adelman - latimes.com.

Adelman is such a perfect fit for the Lakers, it's painful. An experienced and well-liked coach who prefers veterans, Adelman's never had a roster as stacked as the one still primed to compete in L.A.. The Lakers want a steady hand with the requisite amount of influence, fame, and experience to take the reins from the retiring Jackson, and Adelman needs a legitimate shot at a title. There's never going to be a better cross-section of interests for the two than this. 

Still, it remains to be seeen if Adelman has interest in the position or if he'll agree to an interview with the Lakers. The Times reports the Lakers fully intend to take their time with the selection, with former Cavs coach Mike Brown and current  assistant coach Brian Shaw still on the list. The Tiimes does confirm that any coach currently under contract (and thereby requiring the Lakers to provide compensation to their current teams) is not under consideration for the position. 

You'd have to think Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will be consulted on the hiring, as will the other Lakers executives. But if an interview is confirmed with Adelman, it'll be surprising if the NBA's Oden doesn't wind up the favorite for the position. Yes, I just made that nickname up.  
Posted on: May 13, 2011 11:52 am
Edited on: May 13, 2011 12:19 pm
 

Doc Rivers, Celtics agree to 5-year deal

Report: Doc Rivers agrees to five-year deal with Boston Celtics to remain head coach.

Posted by Matt Moore


Update 12:09 p.m. EST: Yahoo! Sports reports and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com confirms that the deal is five-years, $35 million. That's quite a bit, but Doc is worth every penny.  Berger reports this is the same deal that's been on the table for months. 

Original report: CSN is reporting Friday morning that the Boston Celtics have agreed to a new five-year deal with Doc Rivers to remain head coach.

Rivers said following Boston's Game 5 loss to the Heat that he was looking to remain a Celtic, and reports published Thursday indicated a long-term deal like this was in the works. 

It's a curious decision for Rivers, considering his son's imminent enrollment at Duke, and after it took such hand-wringing to convince him to return last year. Rivers was close to walking away after the Celtics' last run fell short, and there's little to indicate the Celtics' odds at a championship will improve, considering their age and cap situation, unless Danny Ainge gets really inventive really quickly.

But sometimes it's not about just your odds at a championship, and Rivers has obviously grown strong connections to the city, the franchise, and especially to its players. Doc will keep roaming the sidelines for a few more years, it seems. 


We'll have more updates as this story develops.
Posted on: May 12, 2011 5:09 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 5:28 pm
 

Report: Lakers interested in Adelman as coach

The Lakers are reportedly interested in Rick Adelman to serve as their head coach. rick-adelman

Posted by EOB Staff

With Phil Jackson expected to retire and end a Hall of Fame career, but with the Lakers still with a championship-worthy roster, the search for the next coach in Hollywood is kind of a big deal, even bigger than it normally is. And while Brian Shaw was the presumptive favorite, given the disappointing and altogether unsavory end the Lakers met in the playoffs' second round, there's talk of some of the bigger names being brought in.

The top of that list? Rick Adelman. From ESPN:
 
NBA coaching sources on Thursday described the Lakers as "very interested" in Rick Adelman as a candidate for the position.

Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw has the public endorsement of Kobe Bryant and is regarded as by far the strongest in-house candidate for the position.

Yet sources say Lakers officials are intrigued by the Adelman option, not only because of his history of success in Portland, Sacramento and Houston but also his reputation for thriving with veteran teams and the similarities between Adelman's "corner" offense and Jackson's "triangle" offense.

Beyond Shaw and Adelman, sources said, L.A.'s list of potential targets is only just taking shape.
via Sources: Los Angeles Lakers 'very interested' in Rick Adelman - ESPN Los Angeles.

Adelman taking over the Lakers would be pretty bitter for Blazers, Kings, and Rockets fans who supported Adelman against "the Empire" over the past ten years.  But at the same time, Adelman's constantly been winning and producing with teams with far less talent, and if anybody deserves a shot at a one-off championship with a loaded, veteran roster... well, it's Jerry Sloan. But after him, it's Adelman, and trying to sell the Casual Sunday Lakers on Sloan's militant approach is a no-go. Adelman has credit with the players, a system similar to the triangle, at least in some regards, and experience. 

Adelman's going to have his pick of jobs. But the Los Angeles Lakers, with another year of Kobe, Gasol, Odom, and possibly Bynum? He's not going to find a sweeter job than that.
Posted on: April 6, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: April 6, 2011 12:56 pm
 

How is Byron Scott not on the hot seat?

Byron Scott may not be on the hot seat, but should he be?
Posted by Matt Moore

There is a difference between not having much to work with and doing very little, and not having much to work with, and doing even less. 

That's the summation of Byron Scott's work with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season.

Scott came into a job having been sold, probably, that he would be coaching LeBron James and the rest of a team that won more than 50 games four of the past five years prior to his hiring. He thought he would be competing for a championship. When James left and Scott was left with the remains, a pass was automatically granted to him by media, fans, experts. What are you going to do with that roster? Then the injuries hit. How are you supposed to win with a bad team that's also injured? And so on. Excuses were made, accepted, and away from the spotlight of national attention, Scott was slotted into a quiet "Poor guy" model and forgotten about. 

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger has a rundown in his weekly Post-Ups of coaches and managers who could be on the hot seat soon. 

All of them have a better record than Byron Scott. 

Consider this: Mike Brown was fired despite a win percentage of .663 with the Cavaliers. Byron Scott currently has a .469 winning percentage and a .208 mark with the Cavs. Scott didn't come with championship experience as a coach. Why then is his work with the Cavaliers being glossed over so smoothly? 

The answer is a few signature wins. The Cavaliers have knocked off the Celtics, the Lakers, the Heat, and the Knicks (thrice) this season, which Cavs the Blog author John Krolik says lead to the false perception that the Cavs are "scrappy." In reality, these were simply the result of an 82 game schedule. In the course of such a long season, you're going to have random games. Not just games where a good team isn't feeling it. Just games where the other team is better that night. A good team can play well and still lose to a bad team. This isn't to take credit away from those Cavalier wins, they count in the standings as much as the Celtics' wins do. But it's the overall body of work beyond the wins and losses, especially for a rebuilding squad, that shows the value of the team. And the value of the Cavaliers is terrible. That's mostly on account of roster. That's partly on account of Scott. 

The Cavaliers have shown poor late-game execution, have struggled with lineup management, have failed in communication and coherency on both sides of the ball, and have illustrated a lack of effort in the majority of their games. Those are not solely accountable to a bad roster. A large part of those problems is coaching. Meanwhile, as the losses have piled up, Scott has not stuck by his guys. Instead of protecting a young roster trying to find its way and seek some progress, at every turn Scott has publicly, not privately, publicly berated his team. Running down a young squad for their effort in practice is one thing. Doing it in the post-game gaggle is another. It doesn't motivate the players. It doesn't help the organziation move in the right direction. It just makes it look like Scott's trying to duck the blame for the losses. 

Byron Scott was dealt a bad hand and played it poorly. He was never known as a coach to develop young talent around. In New Orleans, he buried Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton for being rookies despite their showing significant talent. The younger Cavaliers have shown little progress towards developing into quality players. Scott may have been a great fit for the LeBron Cavaliers. We'll never know. We do know one thing. He has not been a great fit with a rebuilding Cavaliers team.
Posted on: March 23, 2011 11:26 am
 

Is Larry Drew already on the hot seat?

Larry Drew might already be on the hot seat with the way the Hawks have underperformed and are now melting down. 
Posted by Matt Moore

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If it's only slightly broke, you had better be sure you don't fix the wrong part because you could lose to the Bulls by 30 at home. 

After Tuesday night's pathetic performance against the Bulls, the Atlanta Journal Constitution wonders if first-year head coach Larry Drew isn't already on the hot seat. 
This is why you don’t promote the nice-guy assistant. Because the players who’ve known him only as the nice-guy assistant will quit on him. And if you think the Hawks are still playing hard for Larry Drew, how are we to explain the misdoings of the past three weeks?

The Hawks have lost six home games in 18 days. (By way of comparison, they lost seven home games all last season.) Only one of these six losses has been by fewer than 13 points. Average margin of the six losses — 17.2 points.
via Another home blowout tells us the Hawks have quit on Drew | Mark Bradley.

Hawks fans at the blog Peachtree Hoops are feeling similarly frustrated with Drew: 
This past off season, Atlanta changed directions at coach by not really changing. I think Larry Drew is a great person, a great basketball man with a great basketball mind. He is willing to try and answer anything that you ask him before games and I think has attempted to put up a good hard working front while the building is crumbling in around him. I think he is a deserving head coach but I am not positive that he is the different voice that this team needed.
via Chicago Bulls 114, Atlanta Hawks 81 Or This Is Embarrassing - Peachtree Hoops.


Firing Mike Woodson was kind of perplexing to begin with. Despite being under fire nearly every season, he helped the team improve in win totals progressively, taking them from a laughing stock full of young players to a team that swept the Celtics in the regular season last year and would have had a better time of it had it not ended up in a terrible series of matchups against first motivated and desperately emotional Milwaukee and then matchup-advantaged Orlando.  It got beat badly by Orlando... because Orlando was really good. Yes, the team had stagnated and change can be the thing that puts your team over the top. But Woodson looks pretty good after the debacle Tuesday night. Meanwhile, it was management's decision to re-sign Joe Johnson for more than he would be worth. But the fact remains that the Hawks have two All-Stars and a third very good near All-Star (Josh Smith) along with solid players like Kirk Hinrich and, well, every other game, Marvin Williams. But the Hawks have looked sporadic and confused for most of the season. What's worse, they seem to have lost their identity. 

And it may take a coach with a stronger sense of what he wants from his team to help them find it again. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com