Mike Brown new Lakers coach

Updated: May 26, 2011, 6:52 PM ET
By Chris Broussard | ESPN the Magazine

Mike Brown is the new coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers were expected to announce Brown as the 22nd coach in franchise history Wednesday afternoon but first issued a statement.

"In response to rampant speculation and reports about our head coaching position and Mike Brown, we've met with Mike and are very impressed with him," the team said. "In addition, we have an outline for an agreement in place and hope to sign a contract within the next few days."

Brown, who is currently in Cleveland, will sign the contract later this week. According to league sources, the deal will be for four years and $18.25 million.

During an interview on ESPN during halftime of Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, Brown said he already had exchanged text messages with Kobe Bryant, who had endorsed Jackson assistant coach Brian Shaw for the job.

Brown is "looking forward to getting to know Kobe and being able to work with him to go and get us a championship," he said.

The development is a victorious comeback for Brown, who was fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers almost a year ago to the day. Now, the 41-year-old Brown, the winningest coach in Cavaliers history, is leading one of the most prestigious and successful franchise in modern basketball history.

The contract is a three-year deal with a team option for a fourth year. If the Lakers don't pick up the option, Brown is guaranteed to receive $2.5 million.

Brown's union with the Lakers came together quickly. An ESPN analyst and the 2008-09 NBA coach of the year, he emerged as the leading candidate for the vacancy created when Phil Jackson retired after a strong face-to-face interview Saturday with Lakers brass including executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss, ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher reported.

"I think it's great," said LeBron James, the face of the Cavs during Brown's tenure.

Brown, 41, guided Cleveland to the 2007 NBA Finals and two trips to the Eastern Conference finals in five seasons with the Cavaliers, posting a record of 272-138.

While Brown's teams were noted for their defense, their offensive schemes were much maligned for their over-dependency on James to create without the consistent involvement of his teammates.

Brown said the Lakers would be a "defensive-minded team," saying "I thrive and I love that end of the floor because I believe that's what helps you win championships."

Although James was critical of Brown's strategies during their final playoff run together, the two-time NBA MVP strongly endorsed his former coach Wednesday.

"Mike Brown is a great coach," James said. "He brought us success that we hadn't had before in that city, and it started with his defensive concepts. He brought in a defensive mindset that we didn't have. Fifty-plus wins, he was coach of the year, he got us to the (NBA) Finals, won us the Eastern Conference finals ... because of him and his coaching staff. I respect him. He definitely helped me become who I am today."

Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss addressed the issue of the team's offense moving forward in an interview with SiriusXM Radio on Tuesday.

"We're not going to continue exclusively with the triangle," Buss told Playboy Radio's Michael Eaves and Bonnie-Jill Laflin. "Certainly, there will be facets of the triangle incorporated into any modern offense."

Brown would be likely to implement an offensive system similar to what the San Antonio Spurs run, which includes triangle principles, according to a Western Conference coach familiar with Brown's career. Brown was an assistant coach in San Antonio from 2000 to 2003.

Brown's interview, combined with his track record of success in Cleveland, moved him ahead of the two other candidates the Lakers interviewed, Rick Adelman and Shaw.

Shaw was the favorite candidate among the current Lakers, with Derek Fisher and Andrew Bynum joining Bryant in throwing their support behind him. Fisher tweeted his approval of Brown's arrival late Wednesday.

"Will miss Phil but excited to start a new chapter under Mike Brown," Fisher said. "Looking forward to a different style and energy!!"

Shaw will likely be moving on to another franchise after the hiring of Brown. He is a candidate for the head-coaching job in Golden State, though sources say the Warriors want to hire a coach with prior head-coaching experience.

Lakers brass did not consult Bryant during their coaching search, but sources say Bryant has great respect for Brown and is on board with the hiring.

With the Lakers realizing their hopes of landing Brown, runner-up Adelman would move to the Warriors' short list, sources told Bucher.

Former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Kevin McHale is also among the Warriors' top candidates. McHale was expected to meet with Rockets owner Les Alexander on Wednesday, but a source cautioned not to interpret that as McHale being on track to get the job. McHale is battling assistant coach Dwane Casey to succeed Adelman in Houston, a source said, and the Rockets could make a decision as early as Thursday.

The Warriors, conversely, will not hire a new head coach until next week at the earliest, a source said.

Chris Broussard covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine. Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin, ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher, ESPN.com's Marc Stein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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