COMMENTARY | Following the Los Angeles Lakers' announcement that the team fired second-year head coach Mike Brown on Friday, speculation has already begun as to who the best candidates are to replace the former NBA Coach of the Year.
In Los Angeles expectations are high, and on a team full of aging superstars, the Lakers will need a coach that can handle all that comes with it. With that in mind, here are the top five potential replacements for the recently ousted head coach:
1. Phil Jackson
The 11-time NBA champion has the most history with the Lakers, and would undoubtedly be the most popular hire should the Lakers' brass put their egos to the side and get him to come back. Owner Jim Buss divorced himself from the triangle offense that won the franchise five titles when he hired Brown in the first place, and it's a likely reason why he didn't hire Brian Shaw, who was Kobe Bryant's first choice following Jackson's retirement.
For this to happen it would take a host of unlikely events to occur in succession, but it's so crazy that it actually makes sense.
2. Mike D'Antoni
There's no "Showtime" L.A. right now, and D'Antoni can bring it should he get the chance. He and Steve Nash had their best years together while with the Phoenix Suns, and if the Lakers want to continue to break away from their identity as a read-and-react team and become a better transition team, then he would warrant consideration.
Lack of playoff success and a roster that doesn't suit his teams' play style make this difficult to foresee. But if the Lakers want to continue to move away from their identity with the triangle and Princeton offenses, D'Antoni would be a good fit. He also has history with Bryant as a coach with the USA Basketball program.
3. Brian Shaw
If Bryant had his way following the Phil Jackson era, then it would have been Shaw, not Brown at the helm after the Lakers won their last NBA title in 2010. The continuity would have been there from the start, and Shaw is considered one of the top assistants in the NBA.
However, a hiring of Shaw would be a sign of the Lakers' management admitting they were wrong when they chose not to hire him, and it's another unlikely (but popular) scenario.
4. Jerry Sloan
Sloan coached the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz for a total of 26 seasons and had a record of 2,024-1,221 for a winning percentage of .603. He is best known for coaching John Stockton and Karl Malone to back-to-back Western Conference championships in 1997 and 1998 and expertly running the pick-and-roll offense.
The Lakers happen to have two players who could run the pick and roll to perfection in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Sloan has a winning pedigree and knows how to deal with stars.
5. Nate McMillan
The Lakers reportedly had Nate McMillan on their radar following Jackson's retirement. The former Seattle Supersonics and Portland Trail Blazers head coach has a career .514 record in 930 career games. He is familiar with many of the Lakers' players as an opposing head coach, and is a respected basketball mind.
No matter where the Lakers decide to go, the move is a complete surprise. All bets are off with respect to where they go from here and what direction they will go.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He is also the Editor of Sports Out West.
You can follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets
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