The Los Angeles Lakers ran out of patience quickly when it came to Mike Brown, and now we apparently know why — owner Jerry Buss’ failing health impacted the decision to make a coaching change just five games into the season.
General manager Mitch Kupchak told CBS Radio that the decision to fire Brown might have been hasty but that the organization didn’t want to wait. Buss died last week at age 80 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
“The one thing that was a big factor is our lack of patience,” Kupchak said. “When we made the changes we made in the offseason, we really did it with probably a two-year window to do our best and win a championship. And clearly we knew Dr. Buss was not in great health, and we were hoping for the next year or two we could put something on the court that would result in being in the hunt at the end of the year for a championship.”
The Lakers’ slow start to the season under Brown was an indication it wasn’t headed in the right direction, leading the team to dismiss him quickly. It was the fourth-fastest coaching change in NBA history.
“And when we didn’t feel we could get there after a preseason and a small number of games, we didn’t feel we had the patience to wait and see if it was going to work out,” Kupchak said. “And that’s really why we made the change we made so early.”
The Lakers could have waited on Brown to see if he could turn around the team, Kupchak said, but given the ailing owner’s health, he felt it was best to make a change rather than try to ride out the slow start.
“We could’ve waited another month or two, but at the time I believe we were 1-4,” Kupchak told CBS Radio. “And if we would’ve waited another month, we could’ve turned it around or we could’ve been 2-12. We just didn’t want to wait. And that’s because we feel our best chance to win is this year and next year.”
The Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni, who has the Lakers playing better, but the team is still three games out of the Western Conference’s eighth playoff spot at 28-30. They’re coming off a 119-108 loss on Monday at Denver and return home Thursday to play the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center.
“We need help from the teams above us,” Kupchak said. “We need them to cooperate and put together two- or three-game losing streaks and we have to continue to play well.”