After losing four of five games to start the season, the Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Mike Brown on Friday.
Brown's agent, Warren LeGarie confirmed the firing, saying Brown had informed him of his dismissal. Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will serve as interim coach while the Lakers search for a long-term replacement.
It is unclear whether the organization will make a run at bringing back Phil Jackson, but one candidate prominently being discussed as a long-term possibility: Mike D'Antoni.
D'Antoni has been without a job since leaving the New York Knicks in 2011. D'Antoni had knee replacement surgery in the past couple weeks and is not yet on his feet. Would still need time to rehabilitate before he could go back to work.
Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw also could become a candidate – though that's a dicier proposition, given the acrimony that ensued between the Lakers front office and Shaw after the team chose to replace Jackson with Brown over Shaw.
USA Today first reported Brown's firing.
In conversations on Thursday, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak made a case to Lakers owner Jerry Buss and executive vice president Jim Buss to give Brown more time before deciding to fire him, sources told Y! Sports. Brown also made a case to management that he could get the Lakers into championship contention, sources said.
Lakers ownership made clear that buying out the remaining three years on Brown's original $18 million four year contract wasn't an obstacle to making a coaching change.
Within the organization, there was a sense that Brown has frayed his connection to the locker room with long practices and game-day shootarounds, sources said. Brown began to address that issue recently with shortened sessions.
The irony is that Jerry Buss' son who runs the day-to-day operations of the franchise, Jim – and not Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak – was the primary advocate in the hiring of Brown and the firing of him. Kupchak was partial to Rick Adelman as a replacement, sources said. Nevertheless, the Buss family lost patience with the team's sluggish start to the Princeton offense, and didn't accept the excuses of a weak bench with such a star-studded starting five of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.
Nash is sitting out with a broken bone in his leg, and won't return to the lineup until later this month.