Friday, May 20, 2011
Lakers eye Mike Brown, sources say
By Marc Stein ESPN.com
The Los Angeles Lakers are taking a deliberate approach to their search for a successor to Phil Jackson, but NBA coaching sources told ESPN.com the team has added Mike Brown to its list of candidates.
The former Cleveland Cavaliers coach, now working as an analyst for ESPN, is expected to interview "soon" with the Lakers, sources say.
In Cleveland, Mike Brown made one trip to the Finals in 2007 and won coach of the year honors in 2009 before his dismissal.
Brown would become the fourth known candidate for the job, along with former Houston Rockets coach Rick Adelman, ex-Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy and Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, who is regarded as the only serious in-house contender to replace Jackson.
Brown is widely regarded in coaching circles as the leading candidate in Golden State to replace Keith Smart. Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird also said this week that he intends to contact Brown -- as well as Adelman -- to gauge his interest in returning to Indiana, where Brown worked as an assistant before joining the Cavs.
In Cleveland, Brown made one trip to the NBA Finals in 2007 and won NBA Coach of the Year honors in 2009 before his dismissal following Cleveland's second-round exit to Boston in 2010 and LeBron James' subsequent departure to Miami via free agency.
ESPN.com reported last week that the Lakers are "very interested" in Adelman. Sources say that Dunleavy, who began his head coaching career with the Lakers in 1990-91 and went to the NBA Finals in his first of two seasons as Pat Riley's successor, has maintained a close relationship with Lakers owner Jerry Buss and executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss and has also made it onto L.A.'s short list.
ESPN.com also reported in March that the Lakers have maintained a level of interest in former Rockets and New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy dating to last season, when Jackson also strongly considered retirement before deciding to come back for one more season.
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Brown is one of a handful of candidates already interviewed by Golden State, along with Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey, Boston Celtics assistant coach Lawrence Frank, TNT's Kevin McHale and Shaw and fellow Lakers assistant Chuck Person.
Casey, McHale and Frank are the three finalists for the Rockets' job vacated by Adelman at season's end.
In Indiana, Bird has publicly acknowledged that interim coach Frank Vogel is the favorite to land the job as Jim O'Brien's full-time successor after Vogel posted a 20-18 record and helped the Pacers secure a playoff berth. But Bird also made it clear that the Pacers intend to interview other candidates as well.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com.