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Your! Call: Who will be the Lakers next head coach?

Pat Lovgren, TSN.ca Staff

11/9/2012 6:44:43 PM

With the Los Angeles Lakers officially pushing the panic button and firing their head coach Mike Brown, the team is now a position to find a replacement for interim man Bernie Bickerstaff that will be able to turn the struggling, star-driven team around.

Immediately after the firing, the first name that surfaced was former Lakers coach Phil Jackson. The 11-time NBA champion retired in 2010 after a second round sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. Prior to that he had won five titles as a Lakers coach and had proven to be the only one capable of leading Kobe Bryant to a championship.

Jackson left the Lakers once before, following the team's 2004 NBA Finals loss to the Detroit Pistons and did return, but under entirely different circumstances, as he was re-hired prior to the 2005-06 season and had not already announced his retirement.

He would seem to be the man for the job, but was very firm in his assertion that the 2010-11 season would be his last, so a return to the bench for what would be his third tour of duty in LA would be anything but a sure thing.

Besides Jackson, another name that has gotten traction is former Knicks and Suns head man, Mike D'Antoni.

D'Antoni's familiarity with Steve Nash and his past experience running the type of up-tempo, showtime offence Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss has wanted to implement would be drawing cards.

Still, he has never won an NBA championship and his teams have always struggled to defend – the area the Lakers have struggled with the most this season, ranking in the bottom half of the league in points allowed.

There is also the issue of him not being physically capable of being able to patrol the sidelines after having knee replacement surgery just a couple of weeks ago. It was being reported he is currently going through rehabilitation and would not be able to return to work until December.

Besides those two experienced candidates, there is also speculation LA may be willing to consider former Lakers player and assistant coach Brian Shaw.

Now an assistant with the Indiana Pacers, Shaw was a favourite of Bryant and was thought to be a candidate for the same position when LA decided to go with Brown.

Unfortunately, the relationship between Lakers management and Shaw was soured after the team decided to pass him over, and according to the Indianapolis Star, he laughed when asked about a possible return.

Former Utah Jazz head man Jerry Sloan was another name thrown into the fray.

The 70-year-old resigned in 2011 after coaching the Jazz for 22 years. He led the team to 15 consecutive playoff appearances and his track-record of getting stars like John Stockton and Karl Malone to buy into his no-nonsense, hard-nosed approach may be appealing to Lakers ownership.

Still, going from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles would be a huge jump for the notoriously private, media-averse Sloan.

Stan Van Gundy dispelled any rumours he may be in the running by telling the Orlando Sentinel that the firing of Brown was "the most ridiculous firing in the history of the NBA"

And he later joked: "I'm sure I'm at the top of their list."

His brother Jeff was also a name tossed out, but he last coached in the league in 2007 and is known for running the type of isolation, slow-it-down offence that is opposed by Lakers ownership.

Other possible fits include, Nate McMillan or Flip Saunders but their lack of playoff success and experience in big markets may automatically disqualify them.

As has been proven by coaches not named Phil Jackson, the position of head basketball coach in Los Angeles is an extremely difficult one.

But if Jackson is indeed retired, who can LA depend on to get things turned around?

As always, it's Your! Call.