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Firing Lakers Phil up rumor mill

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Firing Lakers Phil up rumor mill

That was quick and yet long overdue.

The Los Angeles Lakers have fired head coach Mike Brown just five games into his second season. In the eyes of some the dismissal is deemed panicky and a direct result of a 1-4 start which included blowout losses, obvious dysfunction and one major league death stare.

There are elements of truth to that take, but realistically this move corrects a botched hire following Phil Jackson's retirement. What may become clear in the coming days is the firing occurred because there are "strong" indications the Zen Master is coming back for more.

Whether the 11-time NBA champion coach returns to work the sideline, pull the strings from a management level or sticks to fly fishing in Montana, the Lakers rightly moved on from Brown (Though, let's get real; do we believe the Buss family made this decision without knowing at least the basic framework of Plan B? And yes, Jackson and Jeanie Buss are still a thing. So there is that).

The Lakers job requires leadership, respect and perhaps most of all charisma of the highest order. Since 1981, only three men have coached the purple and gold crew for more than two seasons. That distinction is all that connect the Del Harris era to the massively successful ones directed by Jackson and Pat Riley.

Brown's reputation is that of a defensive-oriented coach, one he earned during previous head coaching stint with the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers and while rising through the assistant coaching ranks. Nothing wrong with that, but the Lakers are Showtime, baby. That's not to say stopping the other team from scoring isn't crucial, but that's not what the many time of NBA champions have built their brand on. Personality-wise, Brown's teaching vibe would be better served working with a young roster, not starry veterans. Let's also not forget that as part of their attempt to keep a then free agent James, the Cavaliers canned Brown despite an NBA Finals appearance on his recent resume.

For my basketball sensibilities, the truly egregious aspect of this season's squad was adding Steve Nash while at the same time installing the Princeton offense. The "Princeton" design typically takes the ball out of a point guard's hands and turns the decision-making over to the wings players and high post centers. If you want that, fine. Just don't acquire the ultimate pass-first (and aging) point guard who plays defense...oh, who we are kidding...who doesn't play defense.

Maybe acquiring Nash wasn't Brown's call, but he added ex-Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, a Princeton offensive guru, to his staff. Who knows, maybe that wasn't Brown's call either. It doesn't really matter, just as it doesn't really matter that by the numbers the Lakers lacking defense is more to blame than their scoring ways. This isn't about numbers, but rather soul.

It's also true that Jackson's famed Triangle Offense is a re-branded version of the Princeton Offense. The secret to his success in Chicago and Los Angeles - beyond the superstars on his side - was his managing of men more than his X's and O's.

Whether Jackson returns - according to CSN's Ric Bucher it may be as coach or in an advisor with the team bringing back former assistant Brian Shaw as the head coach - at least the Lakers swiftly moved past any feeling of pride.. That's a wise call seeing as Dwight Howard might not be with the team past this season, Nash the year after and Kobe's best days are nearing an end.

Bernie Bickerstaff, another former Washington coach and an assistant when current Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak played for the Bullets, took over the job for at least one game and on Friday the Lakers romped Golden State. How long the coaching title, interim or otherwise, remains his is likely a very short-term conundrum. Even if Jackson stays away, there are flashier hires to make. Mike D'Antoni famously worked with Nash in Phoenix and was idolized by young Bryant in Italy. Ex-Utah coach Jerry Sloan brings instant credibility. Many believe Shaw should have been the call over Brown in the first place.

For a firing like this to occur so quickly, there must be a plan in place. There also may have been a discussion with Bryant and perhaps the other All-Stars. In the case of the Black Mamba giving his blessing, doubt that was an issue.

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Diallo, UMBC's upset hero

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Diallo, UMBC's upset hero

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history, defeating the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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