NBA / Nov 9, 2012 / 4:30 pm

The Real Reason Mike Brown Should Have Been Fired

Mike Brown

Mike Brown has been fired as head coach of the Lakers after five games this season, and after not quite a full season in aggregate at 42-29. Whether you believe it was fair to fire Brown after such a small sample size this season — with a new team, new system and new assistants — it’s irrelevant because, well, Brown has been fired. The question isn’t fairness, but as to why. The Buss family has their reason: His insistence on the Princeton offense. Eddie Jordan‘s offensive system will be the goat of this muddled start, trotted in front of the critics and gleefully executed within the next week.

 

However, if that’s the main reason he was canned, the Buss family understands its team even worse than I thought. The offense wasn’t devoid of success. For example, it was ninth in the league this season in shot attempts at the rim, and was converting 68.5 percent of those — only four teams had higher shooting percentages that close, and remember, they were getting a lot of shots there. (*Editor: All stats via Hoopdata.com from here on out) The true issue with the offense was the Lakers’ inability to shoot better than the incredibly poor 18 percent from 3-to-9 feet. Compounding the fact the Lakers were the worst-shooting team in that range was that they led the NBA in attempts from that range — 12.2 per game. The team was good at getting the ball inside and making those shots but outside of it, it had issues.

The trump card, however, was the defense. If you are looking for a reason to fire the man, it is his 1-4 team’s inability to defend a Mavericks team missing its best player, a Portland team that doesn’t have a bench and a Utah team with issues in the backcourt. The Lakers are allowing 103.1 points per 100 possessions, eighth-worst in the NBA right now. They’re the fifth-worst at creating turnovers, with opponents giving it back just 12.28 percent. The best defender on the Lakers is Dwight Howard, but by the time he meets an offensive player, that player is already in the paint and now has a much higher chance of making a shot. He’s more than capable of defending the lane, of course, but the idea of funneling drivers to your shot-blocker only works when it doesn’t happen every possession — L.A. is allowing the ninth-most attempts at the rim this season, where opponents are shooting 68.5 percent, the seventh-highest percentage allowed by a defense this season.

This year’s defense is the latest of a series of stumbles in the last year and a half under Brown. There are several reasons that led to his firing, of course. The first and most recent include:

— The Lakers’ failure to include Kobe Bryant in management decisions at the start of the search.

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.

Brown was just the guy who got picked; it was the Lakers who shut out Kobe in this. But Brown was the man who Bryant talked with every day at practice, and not seeing eye-to-eye in the beginning has a way of rarely resolving itself later. The star doesn’t like you. Firing 1, Brown 0.

— The Death Stare. I’m fairly certain Bryant hands out Death Stares at practices, during games, and on the bus ride home if someone turns to the wrong radio station. Even if they’re common, this was caught Wednesday on national TV, with firing speculation already on DEFCON 2. This would have been the storyline for weeks if the Lakers continued to play even .500 basketball because we need things to talk about. The Lakers are good for that, struggling Lakers are better, and Lakers in turmoil is best. Firing 2, Brown 0.

Given more time, it could be expected both the offense (given a healthy Steve Nash even if the ball was “taken out of his hands” by the Princeton) and defense (more time to jell) would get better.  At the least it couldn’t have been worse that it was now.  Small improvements are good, but not so good as to allow him to keep his job, and in my opinion the defensive lapses would have been a fatal flaw all season. That is the would-have, could-have future, though. In the present, the awful defense was already too much.

What do you think?

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