The Lakers let Mike Brown go – I think prematurely, but hey, who am I, some guy, some guy with a blog – and they are pretending that they don’t know who they want to replace him. I find that a dubious statement, but let’s do a phony bite and look at the available coaching talent out there.
1. Phil Jackson – “Available” might be a strong word for Phil’s status, but he’s undeniably got the best resume of any unemployed & experienced NBA head coach. Like Mike Brown’s pseudo-Princeton office, Phil’s triangle doesn’t do much to utilize Nash’s pick and roll skills, but the Zen master is the obvious choice to juggle egos and blend talent. Don’t know if he could handle it physically or what his motivation to come back would be. Are millions of dollars still motivating when you already have many, many millions of dollars?
2. Larry Brown – Larry only works in short does, but that’s what this team needs. Like Phil he can mold a group, and he has credibility with his NCAA and NBA titles. Every team Brown (Larry, not Mike) has every coached has shown immediate improvement – except those gawdawful Isiah Thomas-built Knicks teams that LB was specifically trying to tank. Larry’s teams tend to rely on smart point guards and great front court defense, so he would be a nice fit strategically.
3. Stan Van Gundy – Honestly, how awesome would that be? Could you imagine the look on Dwight’s face when Mitch told him? So great. Tactically, Stan could basically run his Orlando sets on both ends. Pau would have to get used to shooting from deep a little more, but otherwise, Kobe gets to be super-ultra Hedo, and everything works.
4. Jeff Van Gundy – See above. I actually think Jeff might be the better coach between the two brothers, but he seems awful happy announcing.
5. Mike D’Antoni – Nash would LOVE this one. Unfortunately the big problem the team seems to have is on the defensive end, and you can’t seven-seconds-or-less that away.
6. Nate McMillan – He did a terrific job in Portland and is universally respected. Coaches solid defense and puts stars in positions to make plays. Also he and Payton comprised one of my favorite back courts of the nineties.
7. Flip Saunders – Nobody is mentioning him, but Flip is a terrific coach. He mixes it up at both ends with a ton of offensive sets and a willingness to experiment with the zone defense (something this team might need in order to cover for Nash at times). Kobe and the Lakers overwhelmed his Timberwolves back in the day, so hiring Saunders would be a sort of justice too.
8. Jerry Sloan – Oddly, I think this could work. He might grate on Dwight (if you think SVG is too tell-it-like-is, Sloan will batter your poor ego into dust), but systematically he makes some sense. He’d keep the offense to the strengths of Nash and give Steve the opportunity to keep everyone involved. He’d demand good defense and rebounding. He and Artest might beat the hell out of each other on the sidelines. Wouldn’t you love to hear Marv Albert announce, “Coach Sloan puts World Peace in a SPECTACULAR headlock.”