Lakers GM: Buss’ health sped up Brown firing
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss had been hospitalized for months prior to his death last week. And though the Lakers brass kept his condition under wraps, it loomed over proceedings during an already tumultuous season.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak revealed Tuesday that the firing of coach Mike Brown back in November and offseason additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash were hastened by Buss’ deteriorating health and the closing window to get the iconic owner his 11th championship.
“The one thing that was a big factor is our lack of patience,” Kupchak said on John Feinstein’s CBS radio show (via Eye on Basketball). “When we made the changes we made in the offseason, we really did it with a two- or maybe even a three-year window, probably a two-year window to do our best and win a championship. And clearly we knew Dr. Buss was not in great health.”
The problem, of course, was the moves didn’t pay immediate dividends, as everyone expected. The Lakers started the season 1-4 under Brown, with many questioning his offensive system and overall coaching ability.
“If we would’ve waited another month we could’ve turned it around, or we could’ve been 2-12,” Kupchak said. “We just didn’t want to wait. And that’s because we feel our best chance to win is this year and next year.”
None of this is to say the Lakers regret the moves. They have played well this month and still can scrape their way into the playoffs.
But the quotes are interesting because they provide insight into how things operate. Kupchak and Jim Buss, the late owner’s son who has final say on basketball decisions, clearly had in their interests winning a championship this year. That was obvious when the moves were made. But the urgency, caused by Jerry Buss’ health, wasn’t.
The Lakers have a lot of directions they can go from here, Bryant’s contract is up after next season, and he has floated the idea that he might retire. No one expects that to happen or for him to finish his career anywhere other than Staples Center. But will Buss’ death … [For more on Lakers GM: Jerry Buss' health sped up Mike Brown firing, click here.]