Los Angeles Lakers: Chris Broussard

I eagerly look forward to the day when PodKasts aren't focused on the lockout or lockout-related developments. Sadly, that day remains on the distant horizon. Still, a conversation with ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard is always enjoyable, and we fired up the "Sasha Vujacic in the South Bay" clip, which never gets old. Never accuse the K Brothers of not trying to make NBA limbo as much fun as possible.

Click this tab to hear the show, and below is the rundown:

-- Kobe Bryant reportedly has an offer from Virtus Bologna in Italy to join their squad. Is this good idea? For all the reasons Brian listed and more, I agree it's an opportunity (of sorts) Bryant should decline. Granted, I think the odds of him actually taking the offer are slim to begin with.

-- Speaking of Lakers with outside-the-box athletic opportunities, Metta World Peace stunk up the joint on "Dancing With The Stars." In our conversation before a recent practice, he seemed much more confident and, quite frankly, competent in his dancing skills. But just like Vujacic was an "11 a.m. shooter," MWP is apparently an "11 a.m. dancer."

-- With those matters chopped up, we got an update from Broussard on the labor negotiations. As he shares, aside from the basketball related income percentages, the question of a hard or soft cap, and revenue sharing among owners, all the loose ends have been tied up. In other words, the scheduled Nov. 1 start to the regular season is in serious jeopardy.

-- On a positive note, Broussard thinks decertification remains a decided last option for the players' union, despite a handful of powerful agents pushing hard.

-- It's important to remember the recently canceled preseason games and delayed training camps were expected developments on both sides. And in terms of the bigger picture, willingly accepted. Not that either situation is ideal, but as Broussard confirms, neither points to the entire season potentially lost. (For those keeping score, Chris thinks we'll eventually end up with a 50-ish game season.)

-- In discussing Bryant and Italy, Broussard raises an excellent point. Virtus Bologna makes a big splash just by having their team associated with Kobe, much less signing him. Similar to the Besiktas hoopla, this is as much about publicity as earnest hope to land The Mamba. The offer may be legitimately on the table, but we're a long way from Kobe donning a Virtus jersey.

-- Like me, Broussard took issue with the question examined in a recent Triangle (whether the NBA now "belongs to" Kevin Durant). From Chris' perspective, the league has never in its entire history belonged to any one player other than during Michael Jordan's prime.

Sources: Lakers in "serious" talks with Mike Brown

May, 24, 2011
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin reports the Lakers have completed the interview process in their search for a coach to succeed Phil Jackson as head coach, and at the top of the list is former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. Via ESPN.com's Chris Broussard, Brown and the Lakers are discussing salary terms, but calling it a done deal is premature:
"... Sources told Broussard that while a deal could be struck as early as Wednesday, it's also possible a deal will not happen if Brown does not get enough security -- in terms of years and money -- to empower him as coach. No formal offer has been extended to Brown however, according to an individual with knowledge of the negotiating process. At least one source close to the process said he believed the Lakers might prefer one candidate right now, but "it might be a game of chicken" and the team could move on to another candidate very quickly if negotiations do not go well..."

Next in line appear to be Rick Adelman and Mike Dunleavy, with Brian Shaw's candidacy falling behind. That Shaw would find himself on the outs doesn't surprise me. Nothing about the organization's posture since the end of the season indicates they've been particularly enamored with turning the keys over to a) a first time head coach, and b) a holdover from the Jackson era. While both appreciate the results, neither Dr. Buss nor Jim Buss have ever been passionate advocates of Jackson's system. As P.J. noted in his exit interview, he didn't speak to Jim Buss at all during the season.

Reading the tea leaves, despite support from Kobe Bryant and beyond, Shaw never seems to have garnered most-favored nation status. Keep in mind as well Brown is still a leading candidate for the Golden State Warriors job, so just as it is with free agent players, it's certainly possible one side could be leveraging the other (Brown to encourage the Warriors or any other team to move more aggressively on him, the Lakers to get a different candidate to agree to more favorable contract terms, to name two hypotheticals).

As for Brown, like most of the readers filling our Twitter feed, I have my reservations. He's an excellent defensive coach, something the Lakers could obviously use, but there were serious and legitimate questions about his offensive creativity and, perhaps more importantly, Brown's ability to manage egos. Nor do I like what would appear to be major departure from the system making them so successful over the last few seasons, and wonder how L.A.'s personnel fits with what Brown wants to do. On the other hand, while it's not an award I put a whole lot of stock in, Brown has been a Coach of the Year ('08-'09) and ran up a .663 winning percentage with the Cavs. Clearly, if Brown is this far into the process with the Lakers, he sold them on plans to effectively use what the Lakers are likely to have next season.

Fair or not, though, Brown received tons of flak for the ways in which Cleveland failed through their postseason runs in the LeBron James era. In L.A., Brown would have far more frontcourt skill at his disposal than he ever had with the Cavs, which obviously can make any coach look a lot smarter and is a factor that can't be overlooked. As Jackson himself noted in the same exit interview, talent is what wins in the NBA.

At best he'd be a controversial hire, and would have a great deal of work ahead of him to win over the faithful. Really, what the Brown news emphasizes is how underwhelming the coaching pool seems to be. Virtually anyone they could hire would by definition be a major step down from Jackson on the Gravitas Meter (only Coach K would be an exception, and that ain't happening). No candidate, from Brown to Adelman to Shaw and beyond, feels flawed in some important way.

Still, while I don't think it would automatically bring disaster and Brown does have his positives (on defense, primarily), I can't stay he tops my list, for what it's worth. Nor is he second.

Broussard breaks things down in the video below...

On the report of Phil Jackson's interest in Chicago...

May, 25, 2010
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
From ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard:
"The Chicago Bulls have reached out to Phil Jackson through back channels to gauge his interest in returning to the franchise he won six NBA titles with, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation. There has been no direct contact between Bulls officials and Jackson, according to the sources, but people close to both parties have spoken and come away with the belief that Jackson would be open to a potential reunion in Chicago next season. Gar Forman, the Bulls' general manager, refused to comment on the club's coaching search when reached Monday night by telephone..."

My initial reaction?

Brian Spurlock/US Presswire
Phil Jackson had a pretty good run in Chicago. Would he consider going back?

Get used to this sort of thing.

Because so much of Phil Jackson's future seems tied to LeBron James, it seems appropriate the process of figuring it out has a Jamesian feel, heavy on tea leaves and parsing. I don't know what it means. I don't know what back channels are being referenced, nor how concrete the conversations were or when they took place. There is belief among the sources Jackson would be "open" to a second run in Chicago. That leaves a fair amount of wiggle room, as well. What were the "if's" in the conversation? What does "open" mean? Is Jackson eager to return, or just unwilling to say on May 25th it won't happen?

The vague nature of things is obviously related to context: Jackson's team takes the floor tonight in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Mavs owner Mark Cuban was just fined 100K for tampering after fairly innocuous comments about his team's interest in a potential LBJ sign-and-trade. Can you imagine what the penalty would be for even quasi-formal contact between the Bulls and Jackson? Anything beyond the sort of shadowy, behind-the-scenes stuff would be tampering on a fairly cosmic level.

My guess -- and that's all it is -- is while Jackson's camp may not be responsible for the report, they probably don't mind it being out there. There's a negotiation upcoming, and the threat of P.J. possibly coaching somewhere else next season (as opposed to simply retiring) gives his side some leverage. Kobe Bryant has stated publicly his desire to have Jackson on the sidelines next season and won't be pleased if he walks, particularly to another franchise. Plus, signs he could go make fans and season ticket holders nervous.

It all matters, and plays into Jackson's negotiating power.

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