The 2012-2013 NBA season is just one day old, and the talks about firing Mike Brown have already started.
The Los Angeles Lakers lost their home opener on Tuesday, and the head coach has been receiving the bulk of the blame. L.A. fell 99-91 to a Dallas Mavericks team without Dirk Nowitzki, and trailed for the entire second half.
Expectations for the Lakers are extremely high this year. They traded for both Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. With adding a top center and point guard to a starting lineup that already includes Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the Lakers have become the favorites in the Western Conference.
If Brown can’t turn things around quickly, his job could be on the line.
Tuesday’s game against the Mavericks could be a sign of things to come. Running the Princeton offense, the Lakers had difficulty scoring points. The scheme was instituted by Brown this season, but might not fit well with the team’s personnel.
Nash excels when he can push the ball up the court and run pick-and-rolls. The Lakers new offensive system doesn’t allow for much of either. With Brown not utilizing Nash’s talents, the point guard finished the game with just four assists.
The acquisition of Nash was expected to give Los Angeles an elite point guard for the first time since Magic Johnson retired. However, if Brown doesn’t use him the right way, Nash’s value could be considerably lessened.
Brown has had trouble in the past with making his teams’ offenses run smoothly. His Xs and Os were criticized by Derek Fisher last season. As the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, he had difficulty with an offense that was led by LeBron James. In the playoffs, the Cavs were often stifled by superior defenses because of Brown’s poor scheme.
Even if the Lakers can’t live up to expectations, Los Angeles may be reluctant to fire Brown, without a suitable replacement in the middle of the season. Could a familiar face be waiting in the wings to take over this year?
Phil Jackson retired from coaching after he and the Lakers got swept in the second round of the 2011 playoffs. Since he left the NBA, there have been rumors that he wants to return to the league. Reports said he had interest in coaching the Knicks this season, but New York didn’t want him. If Brown gets fired, that might be the opening for Jackson to make another comeback.
Taking over in the middle of the season might be the perfect situation for Jackson. An entire 82-game schedule might be too much for him, especially with his surgically repaired hip.
A few weeks ago, author Roland Lazenby tweeted that Jackson was looking to get back on the Lakers bench. This came after Jackson gave an interview, discussing the team’s upcoming season.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Jackson has come out of retirement. He called it quits after the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the 2004 Finals, only to return a year later.
If Los Angeles continues to struggle, Brown could be fired in the middle of the season. There is also a good chance that the Lakers will be just fine.
The Lakers looked bad on Tuesday, but it is only one game. Even if L.A. has trouble in the first few weeks, they could still turn it around.
Forty percent of the team’s starting lineup is new, and they will need some time to gel. After LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in 2010, they started off the season at 9-8. They ended up reaching the NBA Finals and winning a championship the following year.
L.A. has a chance to even up their record in just 24 hours. They are set to visit Portland on Wednesday night.