Kupchak on the Coaching Change
Not satisfied with a 1-4 start to the regular season after a winless preseason, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and ownership made the decision to fire head coach Mike Brown on Friday morning.
"Mike's a good man, a very hard-working, maybe one of the hardest-working coaches that I've ever been around," said Kupchak. "The bottom line is that the team was not winning at the pace we expected this team to win, and we didn't see improvement."
Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will be the acting head coach for Friday night's game against Golden State while the search for the next head coach commences.
Kupchak said that this was a collective decision made by the front office, and was not impacted by the players.
"After five games, we just felt that we weren't winning, we weren't seeing improvement, and we made a decision," Kupchak explained. "Maybe it would have changed a month or three months down the road. But with this team, we didn't want to wait three months and then find out it wasn't going to change."
As for Brown's replacement, Kupchak said it was very likely to be a coach that is not currently employed, and one that has the type of experience to step in to lead veteran players.
"I think we'd like to see something the players could pick up on maybe a little bit quicker," he offered. "We want to start winning games, find out how good we really are. Certainly I think we'd look to an experienced coach.
"This team was built to contend this year. There's no guarantee this team could win the championship, but we feel they can be deeply in the hunt. We're aware that players are getting older, so our feeling is we could contend at this level for a couple years."
There's no immediate time table for the new hire; in the meantime, Bickerstaff and the rest of the assistants will focus on simplifying things a bit and encouraging better overall effort.
It was not a decision that was made out of any sort of panic or emergency. Rather, Kupchak said he, Dr. Buss and Jim Buss have been aware of a "lack of progress" being made throughout the preseason and start to the campaign.
Kupchak was asked if Phil Jackson was one of the names that would be considered.
"When there's a coach like Phil Jackson, one of the all-time greats, and he's not coaching – I think we'd be negligent not to be aware that he's out there," Kupchak responded. But as of the press conference, no calls had been made to Jackson or any of the other potential candidates.
Ultimately, it was simple for the Lakers. They did not think things were going in the right direction.
"We didn't see improvement, we didn't see a consistent performance," Kupchak concluded. "We couldn't seem to put together a consistent string of offensive and defensive performances."