Things Back To Normal For Mike Brown
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown may have had the toughest job in the NBA last year. With an abbreviated training camp due to the lockout, he had to replace one of the greatest head coaches of all-time in Phil Jackson. Brown had very little time to install his system, which was a far contrast from the triangle offense that the players had an intimate understanding of and experienced a lot of success with.
With things back to normal in the NBA, Brown has ample time this preseason to work with the team in preparation for the 2012-13 season. There’s no lack of practice time and he’ll be able to do a lot more reiterating of his philosophies rather than teaching them from scratch.
“I’m excited about that,” Brown said to HOOPSWORLD. “I’m excited to get into training camp and talking basketball with these guys, not thinking that I’ve got a game coming up around the corner, knowing that we’re going to have a nice, long training camp on top of some preseason games to get ourselves ready and then throughout the course of the year we’re going to have enough time to practice too so I know I’m looking forward to it. I think our guys are too so we’ll see what happens.”
What will potentially help Brown even more than a standard training camp is the addition of eight time All-Star point guard Steve Nash, who the team acquired in a sign-and-trade for multiple draft picks and cash.
“One thing, he’s a leader and he’s a very intelligent leader so he’s going to help add to that,” Brown said. “We already have a lot of intelligent guys and Kobe’s done a fantastic job in the leadership department, which will continue so I think he’ll fit in seamlessly in those areas. On top of that, you’re talking about a guy that just goes out and understands the game, especially on the offensive end of the floor very well.
“He’s going to make the game easier for all of us including myself. We’re going to put him in pick-and-rolls, we’re going to run him off the screen. He does a great job. A lot of people don’t see this and don’t understand this but he does a great job of setting screens and you talk about a dual threat, he’s a guy you can’t leave open so he’s going to give a lot of guys a lot more room to operate. I’m looking forward to spending time with him on the court, as well as off the court.”
Most of the talk regarding Nash to the Lakers has revolved around what he’s going to bring to them offensively and rightfully so. He’s the best playmaker they’ve had since Hall of Fame point guard Magic Johnson was orchestrating showtime.
There are few who believe that he’ll do much to help them at the position defensively. After all, Nash has never been known for his defense. But, he also has never played for a defensive-oriented coach like Brown. He’s also never had two seven footers roaming the paint to help him like he will in Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
“With his intelligence, he’s a guy that can fit in well,” Brown said. “He’ll know where his help is built into or where his help is coming from and as long as he keeps funneling the ball to his help and he works hard, which he’ll do. He’ll be fine. He’s extremely intelligent. I don’t foresee any problems with Steve on that end of the floor.”
While Brown acknowledged that Nash will make his job easier, he’s feeling no less pressure going into his second season with the Lakers.
“Any head job in the NBA, I don’t care where you are, there’s a lot of pressure,” Brown said. “You could be coaching any club and if you don’t get wins, which is what this business is about, you can get fired and so I don’t look at it as that. I go out and coach the team and I go out and coach the team the way I think it needs to be coached and if some things fall into place and you do your job, you’ll have a chance to win a lot of nights.
“The only difference between L.A. and Cleveland in my opinion is there’s more media, so there’s more attention not only to our superstar but to the guys that are our 14th, 15th guys, they’re getting just as much media as our top guys because of the media outlets out there, but other than that the pressure’s all the same which I enjoy.”
Brown is currently searching for a couple of assistant coaches to help him take on that pressure since he lost two in Quin Synder and Ettore Messina, who will be coaching CSKA Moscow next season.
“Quin Snyder and Ettore Messina did a terrific job for us this past year and obviously they’ve moved on,” Brown said. “They’ve had other opportunities that they’re going to do or take advantage of. Right now, I’m still in the process of trying to figure out who I want to have to replace those guys. I have a few guys in mind but I still have some guys that I’m going to talk to so there’s no rush, no timetable but hopefully we’ll get it wrapped up in a few weeks.”
While Brown is on the hunt to fill out his staff, he’s going to be watching two of his players, Gasol and Bryant, represent their countries in the 2012 London Olympic Games. It will be a bitter sweet experience for Brown, who is hoping they make it through injury free.
“I think every coach feels that way,” Brown said. “You know they have to do it because when you talk about representing your country, that’s a big deal but in the same breath you pray that nothing’s going to happen. Yes, you probably wouldn’t want them to play at the end of the day but it’s a huge honor and those guys really want to do it so I just wish them the best.”
On the positive side, both players will be in shape and ready to go when the team gets together for training camp in October. After competing for a gold medal, transitioning over to chasing another NBA championship should be smooth.