When Brown started the regular season with a 1-4 record, he was promptly fired, but not before seemingly being safe after Jim Buss spoke highly of him to ESPN on November 8, 2012:
“I have no problems with Mike Brown at all,” Buss said. “He just works too hard and he’s too knowledgeable for this to be happening.
“So either the system is flawed or something’s going on. Or, like the Triangle, it’s very hard to pick up and understand. I’m not a basketball mind like he is or the players are, and the players are fine with it, so I just have to be patient.“
Brown was fired the following day.
I find it interesting that Buss also says that the players were fine with the system, yet Brown was still fired – right now, guys aren’t happy with the system D’Antoni is running.
The other night, Kobe Bryant said it was time for the team to “go back to basics” and Dwight Howard is apparently having second thoughts about re-signing with the team in the summer due to D’Antoni’s anti-post play offense.
You already know how unhappy Pau Gasol is.
This vote of confidence by Buss is similar to the nice words general manager Mitch Kupchak had to say about D’Antoni on Tuesday:
“Without a doubt, we have utmost confidence in Mike (D’Antoni) as a coach,” Kupchak told ESPNLosAngeles.com in a phone interview Tuesday from Memphis.
That sounds great for D’Antoni on the outside, but as we saw with Brown, that doesn’t necessarily mean his job is safe.
Also on the day before Brown’s firing, Buss discussed how long it would potentially be before the team hit the “panic button”:
“You have to give it time to understand [what's going on],” Buss said. “I don’t know if there’s an actual game total that would make me impatient. I know if we’re 1-15, I don’t think that would be very good. I’m sure that would be a panic button.”
The Lakers are now 17-24 and have gone 12-20 under D’Antoni, including just 2-10 in the month of January.
The day that Brown was fired, Kupchak spoke about the reasoning:
“The bottom line is that the team is not winning at the pace that we expected this team to win and we didn’t see improvement. We wish Mike well and we’re sorry it ended this way. So, we’ve decided to move in another direction and make a change.”
Are the team now winning at the pace they expected? No. Are they now seeing improvement? No. (At least Mitch can issue the same statement if D’Antoni does get fired – he won’t even have to change the name).
That’s the thing: this team didn’t have time to wait back in November and they certainly don’t have time to wait now:
“We’re not looking five or 10 years down the road. This team was built to contend this year,” Kupchak said.
They were built to contend this year. Dwight could leave in the summer if he wants to. The window for Kobe and Nash is constantly closing. How long can they wait?
Yes, they’re already paying one coach to sit at home, so they wouldn’t be too fond of paying another one, but the Lakers have invested a lot money into this team and they have to protect that investment.
It’s like buying a mansion in the Caribbean. Let’s say the mansion costs $130 million: the same price as the Lakers’ payroll this year with the luxury tax added. After buying your mansion, a hurricane destroys the island you’re living on and damages your building. It costs $11 million to fix (the same as Brown’s buyout) but you have to do it.
Then, a few months later, you’re hit by another hurricane and your house in damaged once again. You’re pretty unlucky and probably wish you didn’t buy a place in the Caribbean, but you have to repair it, so you begrudgingly pay another $12 million to patch up your place (the amount the Lakers owe D’Antoni).
You’ve now spent $153 million in total on your mansion, but the repairs had to be carried out so you could live in it again. Plus, being a billionaire, the repairs didn’t cost the earth in the grand scheme of things.
Right now though, according to Kevin Ding, nothing is imminent:
Lots of speculation, but I am told today the Lakers are not considering a buyout or firing of Mike D’Antoni as head coach.
— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) January 24, 2013
However, the Lakers play Utah on Friday night, and after a loss to the Jazz back in November, Brown was fired. Could this whole thing come full circle? We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m certainly having a little déjà vu.