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Lakers have a deal to hire Mike Brown as their coach

Brown, who coached LeBron James for five seasons in Cleveland, could soon sign a three-year deal worth about $4 million a season. If he turns the offer down, Rick Adelman would remain a candidate.

May 24, 2011|By Broderick Turner
  • The Lakers have put together a deal to hire former Cleveland Cavaliers Coach Mike Brown as their next coach.
The Lakers have put together a deal to hire former Cleveland Cavaliers Coach… (C.J. Gunther / EPA )

The Lakers have put together a deal to hire former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown as their new coach, an NBA official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said late Tuesday.

If Brown agrees to the deal, he'll sign a contract worth between $4 million and $4.5 million per season, the official said. Brown would sign for three years, with a team option on the fourth season that would give him partial pay if he was not retained.

Brown, 41, became the front-runner because Jim Buss, the team's executive vice president of player personnel, was impressed with his defense-minded style.

Former Houston Rockets coach Rick Adelman also was in the mix for the job and will remain a candidate to replace Phil Jackson if Brown turns down the deal from the Lakers.

Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw also was considered for the head position.

The Lakers had to wait until General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Buss returned from pre-draft camps in Chicago and Minneapolis on Tuesday night before they could get a deal done.

Lakers owner Jerry Buss did an interview with Sirius XM Radio on Tuesday, saying the team was "very close" to filling its coaching vacancy.

It now appears as if Brown is that person, something that could be announced in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Brown was with the Cavaliers for five seasons until he was fired in 2010, leaving with a 272-138 record.

He was named the NBA's coach of the year in 2009 for leading the Cavaliers to a 66-16 record.

Brown led the Cavaliers to a 61-21 record during the 2009-10 season, another league-best record.

But after the Cavaliers lost to the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Eastern Conference finals and to the Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals in 2010, Brown was fired.

Brown led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007, but Cleveland was swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

Brown coached one of the NBA's superstars in former Cavalier LeBron James.

In his radio interview Tuesday, Jerry Buss said that he expected the Lakers' core roster to return next season, with a "tweak ? here or there."

Buss was interviewed by Playboy Radio's Michael Eaves and Bonnie-Jill Laflin.

Buss did say there would be changes in the Lakers' offense.

"We're not going to continue exclusively with the triangle," Buss said. "Certainly, there will be facets of the triangle incorporated into any modern offense."

Various Lakers, including Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Luke Walton, have publicly endorsed Shaw to be the next coach, in part because of his familiarity with their personnel.

"We really don't consult the players on these matters," Buss said. "Obviously, we have to select somebody who has a reputation that players would be happy with. But to ask a direct player to select a particular coach, that's general manager territory."

The Lakers' quest for a third consecutive title ended more than two weeks ago when they were swept in the second round of the playoffs by the Dallas Mavericks. Buss called the Lakers' 122-86 loss in Game 4 "very disappointing and humiliating."

But he sounded upbeat about the Lakers' prospects for next season.

"We may have to tweak it here or there, but as far the core is concerned, we have some of the best players in the NBA, if not the best players in the NBA," Buss said. "I don't think there's going to be any drastic change."

The Lakers for now have the NBA's largest player payroll for next season, with a guaranteed $87.6 million committed to eight players.

Buss added that he and Bryant "have formed a mutual admiration society. I think he realizes that of all owners in the NBA, I want to win more desperately. ?That gives us a certain relationship that perhaps other owners and players do not have."

Among the many uncertainties for the NBA, however, is whether there will be a 2011-12 season. The collective-bargaining agreement between the league and the players expires on June 30, and a lockout remains likely.

"I don't think we can allow it to affect our planning," Buss said of a potential lockout.

"Everybody is aware of it, but everybody is hoping and praying. Both sides ? are saying we don't want this. We'll keep our fingers crossed. But in terms of selecting our coach, we are neglecting a potential lockout."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Times correspondent Mark Medina contributed to this report.

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