Lakers Hire Mike Brown as Coach

This is not a sexy hire by the Lakers, but it's one that can work.

By Kurt Helin
|  Wednesday, May 25, 2011  |  Updated 3:27 PM PDT
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Lakers Hire Mike Brown as Coach

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CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 27: Head coach Mike Brown of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts during the game against the Boston Celtics on October 27, 2009 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The Celtics won 95-89. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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Mike Brown is your new Los Angeles Lakers coach.

The deal has been reached and the official announcement will come later on Wednesday, four years and $18.25 million (the fourth year is a Lakers option).

And that has Lakers fans feeling nauseous. If not outright throwing things off the walls. This is Mike Brown who coached the LeBron James Cavaliers, meaning they racked up 60 or more regular season wins then flamed out in the playoffs. The second part of that doesn't fly in Los Angeles.

But Lakers fans should relax. It's not a sexy hire, for sure, but it can work. There needs to be buy in from Kobe Bryant and some roster changes, but it can work.

For the record, Kobe is on board according to tweets from Chris Broussard of ESPN. Of course, what else did you expect Kobe to say publicly? He wants more championship rings, which means he has to be on the same page as the coach.

What really matters is how Kobe buys in -- and through words and actions gets the rest of the team to buy in come training camp and next season. Kobe has to lead by example.

This is a radical change of style and a departure from the Phil Jackson era, something clearly intended by the Buss family. It's a change from what had worked for the Lakers, for years. That's what scares Lakers fans. That's what the Buss family wanted -- well Jerry and his son Jim anyway, and they run the basketball side of the business. Jeanie Buss, Jackson's girlfriend, likely felt otherwise.

This can work. It can.

First, Brown is a defensive minded coach and that is where the Lakers collapsed in the playoffs. Their defensive rotations were almost non-existent and nobody "helped the helper." The team just seemed lost on that end of the floor. If Brown can bring a renewed commitment on that end, the Lakers will score enough to win games because of their talent.

The knock on Brown was his unimaginative offense, which leaned heavily on LeBron James. Of course, that's a bit of Occam's razor at work -- if you have LeBron James on your team and your second best scoring options are Larry Hughes and Eric Snow, you'd better run every possession through LeBron. At the end of Brown's time in Cleveland, they had a very good offense with Mo Williams (now of the Clippers) and Delonte West on the roster. Again, a smart coach would lean heavily on LeBron.

Now Brown has options. He has a team of players with a high basketball IQ. He can and likely will run more complex sets. In Cleveland, the problem wasn't X's and O's, it was the talent level and ability to execute his plan.

The Lakers will need to go get a new point guard. They will need some athleticism off the bench. They need to get a little younger.

But it all comes back to buy in. The Lakers should be title contenders again next year. But it's only going to work if Kobe, Gasol, Odom and everyone else gets on board with what Mike Brown is preaching. Just like they did with Jackson. Different guy, but this can work.

Kurt Helin lives in Long Beach and is the Blogger-in-Chief of NBC's NBA blog Pro Basketball Talk (which you can also follow in twitter).

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