|Mike Brown was fired by the Lakers on Friday. (Getty Images)|
The Lakers announced Friday that Mike Brown has been fired as head coach in the wake of the mega-team's 1-4 start.
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“This was a difficult and painful decision to make,” said general manager Mitch Kupchak in a statement. “Mike was very hard-working and dedicated, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to make a change at this time. We appreciate Mike's efforts and contributions and wish him and his family the best of luck.”
The Lakers have installed long-time assistant Bernie Bickerstaff as interim coach while they "immediately" search for a replacement. Bickerstaff will coach the team Friday against the Warriors. Ken Berger reports that a further search is underway for a permanent head coach, with Mike D'Antoni prominently in the talks.
D'Antoni of course has a strong relationship with both Kobe Bryant and his former point guard in Phoenix, Steve Nash. Berger also reports former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and former Lakers assistant and current Pacers assistant Brian Shaw will be on the short list.
The move comes as a shock after numerous reports said the Lakers would give the second-year coach time to work through the early season struggles, especially with Nash on the shelf with a leg injury.
Brown has come under fire for the inauspicious start after the team added Dwight Howard and Nash in the offseason. Much of the criticism has been directed at Brown's decision to install the Princeton offense, and the massive defensive problems despite Brown's reputation as a defensive coach.
Tough day. I've seen coaches as well as friends come and go. No matter how many years I've been playing, it's still hard to deal with. I had a good relationship with Mike and I will continue to have one. I wish him and his family nothing but the best. I spoke with him today and thanked him for all of his hard work and sacrifice.
As a team, we must focus our energy on tonight's game. We must block out the weight of today's news and simply do our jobs to the best of our ability.
I'm not sure what direction we are heading in next. All I can do is focus on the here and now.
The Lakers went 41-25 with Brown as head coach last year, but with their only victory this season over the winless Pistons, ownership apparently thought it was time for a move. Yahoo! Sports reports that Kupchak had urged ownership to give Brown more time.
The Lakers have posted the 23rd worst defensive rating this season under Brown.
We'll have much more on this throughout the day.