October 25, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown during the first quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Valley View Casino Center. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Mike Brown or Del Negro? Which coach Will be Fired?


It may be only two games into the season, but the seat under Mike Brown is not just hot, it’s a straight up on fire. It’s a fire burning through the seat of his pants faster than the Lakers’ accounting department burns through cash paying its All Star lineup. Today the debate on when Mike Brown will be let go is more interesting than the Lakers actual play on the court. The “If, when” scenarios are endless.

IF the Lakers start 0-10? . . . FIRED
IF the Lakers start 0-5? FIRED?
IF Kobe tunes him out?. . .FIRED
IF the Lakers are .500 at 41 games? 20?. . .FIRED

It’s inevitable. Who else is going to get the blame? The players? The General Manager?

The Lakers aren’t going to get rid of their big name players. Their smaller name pieces are too old, don’t shoot a high percentage, and know they aren’t actually allowed to help anyway because its Kobe’s team. There’s no fix there. Mitch Kupchak isn’t going to fire himself, and he has too much cache to be upended by Boy Buss Jr.

October 31, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro watches game action against the Memphis Grizzlies during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Or will his coaching fraternity bretheren from down the hall have the honor first? Vinny Del Negro was rumored to be fired last season when he supposedly “lost the locker room.” The Clippers stand to be better than they were a year ago, but now with actual expectations (for the Clippers I know), if the Clippers don’t meet them quickly then Del Negro will be using D Rose, CP III, and Griffin as references for his next interview.

Face it, he doesn’t have much in terms of job security. The man who put Del Negro in charge, Neil Olshey, is now in Portland. Donald Sterling has only displayed indifference, never loyalty, and any new GM is usually eager to put their stamp on the franchise. Del Negro is not a particularly adept in-game manager and strategist. In some circles they might call that a coach. So if you’re not good at that, then how secure must your coaching job be?

Mike Brown originally was a low risk hire by the Lakers in the first place. If he succeeds that’s great. Like the Eric Spoelstra experiment in Miami. They couldn’t oust him from his courtside seat just because Lebron decided on South Beach. They suddenly had a good team. If Spoelstra won (which he did), great. If he doesn’t the Heat had a contingency plan—Riles moves his seat at Heat game up a few rows.

Coaching hires following a successful professional coach, in the Lakers case the MOST successful ever, is a disastrously risky business—particularly if you hire the coach you really want. It’s a lot of pressure on that coach, and risky because it could be difficult. If hiring Mike Brown fails, which is highly probable, the Lakers don’t just have a back-up plan, it was likely the plan from the start. Then you recapture the attention of the players with a new, more credible voice.

If Brown turns it around that’s gravy, but its more likely, and fun to pick an over/under date in the season that Mike Brown wishes Direct TV carried Time Warner SportsNet, so he could watch his former players from the comfort of his Orange County home.

With games coming up against Oregon, Notre Dame, and Stanford, the first LA coach with the privilege of job searching in this tough economy might be Lane Kiffin. The smart money says he won’t be the only one.

Which coach is out of their coaching chair first?

Tags: Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Lakers Mike Brown Vinny Del Negro

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