The Los Angeles Lakers have fired coach Mike Brown after a disappointing 1-4 start to the season, KPCC has confirmed, according to sources in the Lakers organization.
"This was a difficult and painful decision to make," Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a press conference, NBC Los Angeles reports. "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."
Brown's firing comes as a bit of a surprise, as just yesterday ESPN's Ramona Shelburne wrote a piece quoting Lakers owner Jerry Buss endorsing Mike Brown as coach of the Lakers.
"I have no problems with Mike Brown at all," Buss told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "He just works too hard and he's too knowledgeable for this to be happening." News came down Friday morning that Brown had been ousted as coach.
Despite Buss's endorsement, Take Two's A Martinez, who is also a contributor to ESPN Radio, says that the Lakers' position in last place is what sealed Brown's fate.
"Lakers and last place cannot be associated in the same sentence. Jerry Buss is the owner of this team, he's been the owner for the longest time, decades, and he's always prided himself in never allowing his team to have any dips of success," said Martinez. "In his stewardship of owning this team, they've been in the final half the time he's owned this team. That's how successful they are."
Lakers assistant coaches will take over in the interim, but it's unclear who will be the replacement coach or the coach in the long term. Sources tell KPCC that assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will coach the team Friday night, while NBC Los Angeles reports Bickerstaff is taking over as interim coach. The Lakers are carrying out a national search for a new head coach, sources tell KPCC.
Martinez predicts that the Lakers may possibly look for a new coach in Mike D'Antoni, who ran the Phoenix Suns and coached Steve Nash into two MVP titles. He says another option could be Nate McMillan of the Portland Trailblazers and the retired Jerry Sloan, who coached the Utah Jazz and has the clout and locker room presence to gain both the respect and control over a team made of NBA veterans like the Lakers veteran team.
The Lakers added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to make another run at a championship.
Martinez added his thoughts on the offense Brown used in his coaching. "It's called a Princeton offense, and it's an offense that typically for a team like the Lakers that has superstars like Steve Nash and Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, typically isn't one that you'd think they would be able to adjust to, and they haven't. There have been reports out of the locker room that they are not happy with the offense and that it doesn't mesh well with what talents and abilities they have, and it's been expressed on the court because they've looked lifeless and they've looked like a team that doesn't want to be playing on the floor."
We will update this story as more information becomes available.
Correction: Earlier versions of this story misidentified Bernie Bickerstaff as Mike Bickerstaff, and said that the news broke Thursday rather than Friday morning.