Lakers To Play Some Zone?

Mike Brown and his assistant coaches plan to implement a zone defense designed to capitalize on L.A.'s elite length.

Over in Mike Brown's office at the Lakers practice facility, he and his assistants have been working on various ideas to try and improve the squad, including one that hasn't been seen in Los Angeles in quite some time: implementing a zone defense.

In related news, one of Brown's new assistants is Ettore Messina, honored in 2008 as one of the 10 greatest coaches in European basketball history; the zone is much more commonly used as a defensive tactic in Europe than in the NBA, and Brown thinks Messina's zone experience can be instrumental.

"I'm really intrigued with learning more about zone defense and even some zone offense," said Brown in a LakersTV interview. "I'm not a huge fan of zone defense, but I think it could be effective with the length and the size of the guys on this team."

Brown, a steady man-to-man guy throughout his NBA tenure, does not want to waste an opportunity to use his personnel effectively, particularly considering the rule changes in recent years that have made it tougher to guard a man one-on-one.

In short, while we can still expect the Lakers to operate primarily out of man-to-man sets, Brown will almost certainly put in a zone option and see how it works.

Messina will by definition serve as a coaching consultant, and Brown's three other assistants (Chuck Person, John Kuester and Quin Snyder) will occupy the spots next to Brown on the Lakers' bench. We asked Brown if he planned on defining their roles more specifically.

"Not at first," he said. "Everybody's going to coach a bit of everything, because my coaches need to understand and learn our system from all aspects, and not just one side of the ball."

But as Brown went on to explain, eventually his coaches will settle into the areas in which they're most comfortable.

"Maybe over time," he offered. "That's what I did my last few years in Cleveland, I had an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator similar to football where I oversaw everything. But prior to that happening, everybody needs to learn and be on the same page."

When Brown's ready to delegate more directly, we can expect Kuester to lean towards the offense, since he was the "offensive coordinator" Brown cited in Cleveland, while Person will almost certainly stick to defense, which has always been his coaching niche.

That's not to forget about the final piece to Brown's assistant coaching puzzle, his own assistant Kyle Triggs, whose official title is "assistant to the head coach." Brown revealed that the first responsibility given to Triggs was to find a place in Anaheim Hills near Brown's new house. This way, Brown can sit in the passenger seat and do work during the roughly 40-mile commute to the team's practice facility.