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Firing Lakers Phil up rumor mill


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 bringing in UNC teammates Coby White and Nassir Little for pre-draft workout

Wizards bringing in UNC teammates Coby White and Nassir Little for pre-draft workout

The Wizards are holding their highest-profile pre-draft workout yet on Monday, hosting UNC teammates and projected lottery picks Coby White and Nassir Little. 

White earned All-ACC and All-Freshman honors during his lone season in Chapel Hill, averaging 16.1 points and 4.1 assists per game. Little's season with the Tar Heels did not go as smoothly as White's, but he is an NBA-ready athlete with tons of upside. 

Both White and Little could be options for the Wizards at No. 9 and would provide solutions to some of Washington's major needs. White would give the Wizards a primary play-maker while John Wall recovers from his Achilles injury, while Little would fill Washington's hole at small forward and bring some much-needed defense and rebounding to the team.

Before White and Little, the Wizards had brought in very few projected lottery picks during their pre-draft process, outside of Kentucky forward Keldon Johnson and French prospect Sekou Doumbouya. But with the 2019 NBA Draft looming on Thursday, the Wizards are ramping up their search for the player they'll pick at No. 9. 


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Anthony Davis trade to Lakers gives Silver Spring's Josh Hart fresh start with Pelicans

Anthony Davis trade to Lakers gives Silver Spring's Josh Hart fresh start with Pelicans

The Anthony Davis trade will have ripple effects across the NBA, not only on teams, but also on the players involved.

Josh Hart, who was traded from the Lakers to the Pelicans as part of the package for Davis on Saturday, could stand to benefit from the move.

First, here's a look at all of the assets reportedly swapped in the deal, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Now, where does the Silver Spring, Md., native figure in the proceedings?

Hart spent his first two NBA seasons with the Lakers. He averaged 7.9 points in 24.4 minutes per game in his two years in Los Angeles. 

Still, Hart was often the Lakers' third or fourth option at shooting guard behind starter Brandon Ingram and shared minutes with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Bullock and Lance Stephenson. 

LeBron James and the Lakers' win-now strategy left little room to develop Hart last season.

Now in New Orleans, he is part of a franchise rebuilding around presumptive No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. The trade gave the Pelicans both a younger roster and a long enough timeline for success to develop players.

That can only be good news for Hart, giving him the chance to start fresh and impress Pelicans general manager David Griffin and head coach Alvin Gentry with his potential. 

Where the Sidwell Friends alum fits into the lineup depends on several factors.

At first glance, the new-look Pelicans could start Lonzo Ball at point guard, move Jrue Holiday to shooting guard, then complete the lineup with Ingram at small forward, Williamson at power forward and Julius Randle at center. 

If both Ingram and Holiday remain healthy, Hart would compete with Stanley Johnson to be the first wing off the bench for New Orleans.

But if Ingram does suffer recurring issues related to blood clots, Hart could press his case to start. 

The only issue complicating his place in New Orleans' plans is the No. 4 pick that was traded from the Lakers.

If the Pelicans keep that pick and draft a wing player like Jarrett Culver, Hart could find himself on the outside looking in again.