Lakers can Brown after slow start

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Lakers can Brown after slow start

BOSTON The Los Angeles Lakers are the West coast version of the Boston Celtics, a franchise that judges success by banners and championship rings, not wins and losses.

And because of that, Mike Brown is gone as the team's head coach just five regular season games into his tenure.

His dismissal was part unexpected, part shocking but more than anything else, quite telling as to the Los Angeles Lakers taking their win-at-all-costs mantra to another level as the Lakers stumbled through one of the worst starts in franchise history.

After engineering deals that netted them two-time league MVP Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, pairing them up with all-stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, many pegged the Lakers as one of the teams to beat this season.

But a winless preseason followed by a 1-4 regular season start had many questioning whether Brown was the right man to lead the way.

Never mind that Nash has been out for all but a game due to a broken foot injury that will keep him on the shelf until later this month.

Forget about the downside to having a star-studded starting lineup, is a bench that's typically void of many, if any, high impact players.

And when you throw in the fact that the Lakers are implementing the Princeton offense, it all adds up to a team that's probably not going to be playing its best basketball in November.

But the slow start was just the beginning of the issues in La La Land.

Right from the start, his hiring brought about some division amongst the Lakers front office.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was pushing for the head coaching job vacated by Phil Jackson in 2011, to go to Rick Adelman who has since landed the head coaching job in Minnesota. However, Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss felt Brown would be a better fit - that is, until Friday when he along with owner Jerry Buss made the decision to fire Brown.

And by cutting Brown loose, one of the most attractive head coaching jobs in the NBA is once again available.

Not surprisingly, calls for Phil Jackson to return for a third tour of duty have been heard loud and clear by Lakers fans. Another appealing option for them would be Mike D'Antoni who hasn't been an NBA head coach since he left the New York Knicks in 2011. According to Yahoo Sports!, D'Antoni recently had knee replacement surgery and is still recovering and thus his returning to coach the team would seem a long-shot right now.

Others expected to get some consideration include Nate McMillan and former Lakers guard and current Indiana assistant Brian Shaw.

Reactions to Brown's firing became a popular topic on social media websites.

"Feel bad for Coach Mike Brown, who's a great guy," tweeted former Lakers great Magic Johnson. " But don't think he was the right guy for the job in the first place."

Johnson later tweeted, "I'd love to see Phil Jackson or Brian Shaw. Wish Pat Riley was available."many pehh

PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

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PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

He may have been left off of the NFL Network's Top 100 list, but Jamie Collins isn't flying under the radar at Pro Football Focus.

On PFF's list of the top 10 defensive players in the AFC, the Patriots linebacker came in at No. 8 and was given the description as the top linebacker in the conference.

Collins' versatility within the confines of the Patriots defense is what makes him so valuable, PFF's John Kosko explains: 

"He doesn’t dominate in any one role like Luke Kuechly does in pass coverage and run defense, but he is very good at all facets of the game. Collins has the athleticism to cover TEs and HBs effectively, the explosiveness to rush the passer, and the size and strength to defend the run. 

"The former Southern Mississippi linebacker is arguably the most versatile player in the NFL, and allows Bill Belichick to employ a defense that confuses opposing quarterbacks. With the only knock against Collins being his 34 missed tackles the past two seasons, the Patriot is the best linebacker in the AFC."

Collins graded out as the No. 5 linebacker in football last year, per PFF's numbers. He ranked behind only Carolina's Luke Kuechly, Minnesota's Anthony Barr, Indianapolis' Jerrell Freeman and Seattle's KJ Wright. 

Fellow Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower earned the 10th-highest grade for linebackers last season, according to PFF -- a grade that likely would have been higher had his snap-count (602 in 2015) approached that of Collins (792).

While Collins is a rare physical talent, the argument could be made that it's Hightower who is the more important player to the Patriots defense given his prowess as a pass-rusher and run-defender. He also has myriad responsibilities as the extension of the team's coaching staff in the defensive huddle. 

In order to slow down opposing passing games, many Patriots defensive packages employ either five or six defensive backs and just two linebackers. Lucky for them, they have two of the best in the conference.

Both Collins and Hightower are entering contract years this year, and finding a way to keep them in-house figures to be near the top of the list of priorities for the Patriots front office.