Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak spent 10 minutes with Dan Patrick on his radio program this morning. Among the highlights, Kupchak revealed the choice of Mike Brown to replace Phil Jackson as the Lakers coach was a unanimous decision. Kupchak, team owner Jerry Buss and his son Jim Buss made the decision together. Kupchak also indicated the “right was not right” to give assistant coach Brian Shaw his first job as an NBA head coach. In addition, Kupchak said Jackson told him he might have made a mistake by returning to coach one final season in 2010-11. Here’s more:
Why not promote assistant coach Brian Shaw?
Kupchak: “It’s not so much that we chose not to hire Brian because he’s not qualified. I think our feelings going into it were we felt we needed a new voice with this team. The old staff had been with us for almost 11 years. We didn’t end the season as strongly as we hoped. We just felt it was time for a change. Brian is a very, very qualified individual. He’ll be in the NBA for many, many years and he may end up being the Lakers coach one day. But we didn’t feel it was the time right now.”
Was there any discussion of Jackson coming back for 2011-12?
Kupchak: “Phil made it clear two years ago that he was at or near the end. He chose to come back one more year. After the season ended this year, he and I kind of looked at each other and he indicated to me, ‘You know, I felt I had to come back. Three in a row was too much to pass on, but maybe I did the wrong thing.’ I’m glad he came back, but it was clear he came back for one more year and only one more year. He has no desire to coach next year and I think he’s very happy with his decision. Certainly, we all would have liked the season to end on a better note. We’ve been to the Finals seven or eight times with him in an 11-year period and won five championships. That’s pretty good.”
What was it you liked about Brown?
Kupchak: “A new voice was something we felt was important at this time for our team. He certainly has great experience at the NBA level. We feel we got somebody who has a great pedigree and is experienced at the head coaching level. The interview itself was very upbeat. You don’t judge a candidate on an interview. You look at the whole body of work, but I will say in the interview he came across as a very energetic and enthusiastic person. I read some things in the last day or two that the triangle is gone. That’s not true. A lot of stuff that Mike runs is a derivative of the triangle. Those are the things that jumped out at us.”
Who had the final say on hiring Brown?
Kupchak: “Ownership always has the final say, and that’s Dr. Jerry Buss. The three of us that make these decision regarding players and coaches, etc., obviously Dr. Jerry Buss, Jim Buss and myself, I wouldn’t say wouldn’t say one person. If there’s a tie, they always defer to the basketball person. … But all of us agree on any major decision. I wouldn’t say one person has more input than the others. Having said that, obviously, at the end of the day, the owner would make the final decision.”
Was hiring Mike Brown an unanimous decision?
Kupchak: “Yes, he was.”