Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak told CBS Radio that the decision to fire head coach Mike Brown after just five games was due, in part, to team owner Jerry Buss’ failing health.
“The one thing that was a big factor is our lack of patience,” Kupchak said. “When we made the changes we made in the offseason, we really did it with probably a two-year window to do our best and win a championship. And clearly we knew Dr. Buss was not in great health, and we were hoping for the next year or two we could put something on the court that would result in being in the hunt at the end of the year for a championship.”
Kupchak admits that it was a knee-jerk reaction that led to Brown’s firing. It was the third-fastest coaching change in NBA history.
“And when we didn’t feel we could get there after a preseason and a small number of games, we didn’t feel we had the patience to wait and see if it was going to work out,” Kupchak said. “And that’s really why we made the change we made so early.”
Mike D’Antoni took over as the Lakers head coach last November.
“We could’ve waited another month or two, but at the time I believe we were 1-4,” Kupchak said. “And if we would’ve waited another month we could’ve turned it around, or we could’ve been 2-12. We just didn’t want to wait. And that’s because we feel our best chance to win is this year and next year.”
Buss died last week after battling cancer. He was 80 years old. He saw his Lakers win 10 NBA titles. But now the Lakers are struggling with a 28–30 record. They’re in third place behind the L.A. Clippers and the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Pacific Division.
“We need help from the teams above us,” Kupchak said. “We need them to cooperate and put together two or three game losing streaks and we have to continue to play well.”
Kupchak admitted there’s been tension between players.
“Up until lately, I don’t think anybody in our locker room was getting along. If you went down there, you’d see a bunch of grumpy, upset players, and that’s because we were losing. Losing brings out the worst in everybody, and nobody is happy.”
The Lakers have a very small window of opportunity to turn things around.