Brown Offers Line Up Clarity
Earlier this month, Mike Brown told us about his "minutes sheet," which he gleaned from Mavs coach Rick Carlisle to allow him to script out his rotation for the 48-minute games.
On Wednesday, Brown cited the excitement he's been starting to feel while plugging in different options on that sheet now that he's getting to know his personnel a bit, and on Thursday, took it a step further by offering some actual rotation clarification.
His starting point guard? Derek Fisher, almost definitely.
Small forward? Matt Barnes, more than likely.
Center, power forward and shooting guard weren't up for debate, as two of the league's top 10 players -- Kobe Bryant (again All-NBA First Team last season) and Pau Gasol (All-NBA Second Team) -- will have their names announced prior to tipoff along with Andrew Bynum, eager to increase his presence in the absence of Lamar Odom.
The lone change from 2010-11 is the inclusion of Barnes, which moves Metta World Peace to the bench.
Moving a player like World Peace, who has started on each team for whom he's played in his 12 seasons, to the bench could have the potential to be tricky for Brown. But it appears quite to the contrary. Shortly after getting the job, Brown pitched the idea to MWP as an opportunity to lead the second unit, a chance to still guard the opponent's best player on the floor while having more chances to score.
"It's going to be good," said Metta, truly seeming to embrace the role. "I get a chance to come in with extra responsibility … it's going to put the other team off balance."
Since coming to the Lakers prior to the 2009-10 season that culminated in his great performance in Game 7 against Boston, Ron (many of us still get caught going back and forth between his given and adopted names) has had the trust of his teammates.
"This speaks to Ron's approach to everything since he joined this team," said Fisher. "Whatever the Lakers want him or need him to do in order for us to be the best, he's willing to do it … I think his commitment to play whatever role we need him to play has always been there."
Fisher, still outwardly happy to be back in the gym after his offseason was longer than anyone's, was also impressed with how his new coach handled it.
"It speaks to Mike's ability to communicate and be up front with guys, tell them straight up what's going on," Fisher explained. "I think that's appreciated."
Brown, in turn, seems to think the Barnes-Metta swap is the best way to maximize what he can get out of the small forward position. Eager to get his team to run out for easy buckets, it does help to have the fleet-of-foot Barnes clearing the glass and streaking up the court in transition, certainly not one of World Peace's strengths. But with a variety of skills ranging from 1-on-1 perimeter defense (assistant Chuck Person says he's easily still among the league's best), the ability to defend some bigs, posting up on offense and spacing the floor, Metta can check in to fill whatever void a given night brings.
Perhaps more importantly, but Brown has charged him with being responsible for how the bench does.
"In his own uncanny way, he's a leader," Brown explained.
Later, when Artest was expressing his excitement at his new role, Brown walked over and put an arm around Metta's shoulder, recognizing from their Indiana days that World Peace can always use a little love.