I've said it before and I'll say it again: This guy never should have been hired in the first place.
The one and only reason that Jimmy Buss did sign him was Mike Brown's regular season record in Cleveland (272-138, plus 42-29 in the playoffs). By not doing his due diligence, Buss overlooked the overall lack of respect that Brown's Cavs came to have for him, Brown's limited and faulty in-game adjustments, his total dominance at the hands of LeBron James, his stagnant offensive schemes, and his general lack of take-charge charisma.
Brown's poor judgment was likewise demonstrated by his insistence on instituting the Princeton offense this season in LA, a game plan that was completely unsuitable for the Lakers personnel. Reducing Steve Nash's ball-time and routinely positioning Dwight Howard at the high post doomed the experiment.
Also, by bringing in Eddie Jordan to implement said offense, Brown helped to make himself superfluous. And if defense was supposed to be Brown's area of expertise, the Lakers were too slow-footed and/or too unwilling to follow his orders.
Of course, LA's 1-4 start (not to mention going winless in eight preseason games) was a huge factor, but – despite the avowals to the contrary – Kobe Bryant's much publicized Death Stare made the move absolutely necessary.
Buss's statement that Brown's job was secure, made just about 24 hours before the axe fell, illustrates how confused the Lakers' commander in chief really is.
He must have been subjected to some deafening in-house noise to change his mind so quickly. (Just like he was when he finally agreed to hire and then re-hire Phil Jackson.) But at least Brown was shown the door before the Lakers season inevitably turned into a complete disaster.
Without the luxury of training camp, however, whoever replaces Brown will have to make drastic changes on the run.
Let's take a look at the candidates:
The most obvious (and by far the best) one is Phil Jackson. Since Kobe, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Steve Blake are already familiar with PJ's triangle offense, the transition would be quick and easy. There's little doubt that Jackson's enthusiasm has been rekindled by a season as a civilian and by successful knee-replacement surgery.
Buss did everything possible to rid the Lakers of any post-PJ influence, firing holdover assistants and scouts. Would Buss be willing to swallow his arrogance/pride (along with a huge dose of crow), admit his egregious error, and rehire the Zen Master? Is Buss big-minded enough to do this?
Another consideration is that the two coaches Buss hired on his own recognizance (Brown and Rudy Tomjanovich) were awful. It's therefore clear that Buss's judgment in anything to do with basketball simply cannot be trusted. Left to his own devices, he will (and already has) transformed the Lakers from a perennial powerhouse to a joke. Yet Buss is still determined to prove (a la Jerry Krause) that organizations, certainly not coaches, win championships.
Yet, even though Jackson is the obvious and most reasonable choice, Buss still favors replacing Brown with still another vastly overrated coach – Mike D'Antoni.
Mike No-D preaches a shoot-first-and-never-ask-questions game plan that's motored by a point guard. However, this offense might be entertaining, but is not designed to win championships. Also, Kobe would be less than thrilled with Nash once again totally dominating the ball as he did for D'Antoni in Phoenix. And what's the future of a team that's built around the soon-to-be 39-year-old Nash.
Among the other peripheral possibilities are:
Jerry Sloan, whose stubborn attachment to his tightly controlled offense would quickly alienate guys like Kobe and Nash, who both need the freedom to be spontaneously creative.
The reunion of Stan Van Gundy and Howard would be an unmitigated disaster, insuring that DH would be making an exit stage-right ASAP.
Brian Shaw represents the ghost of the Phil Jackson era and would be an excellent choice. But Shaw is already employed and is unavailable.
Nate McMillan is knowledgeable, demanding, honest, and incapable of being intimidated by either his players or his front office, but too independent for Jimmy Buss.
If Buss does indeed hire D'Antoni, he'll be once more being suckered by the numbers and picking the wrong guy for the wrong reasons.