Continued from page 1

Brown’s background in defense apparently intrigues the Lakers, whose last two title runs were built on sturdy defense led by Bryant and 7-foot shot-blocker Andrew Bynum, a favorite of Jim Buss. Brown is a former assistant to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, who employed Brown as his defensive coordinator in Indiana when Lakers forward Ron Artest was named the NBA’s top defensive player in 2004.

Brown said the Lakers would be a “defensive-minded team,” saying “I thrive and I love that end of the floor because I believe that’s what helps you win championships.”

Bryant and his teammates apparently weren’t consulted during the coaching search, and Bryant declined to comment on Brown’s hiring Wednesday when reached by the Los Angeles Times. Bryant publicly supported Shaw, his former Lakers teammate, but the two-time NBA finals MVP also said the Lakers should find a coach who believes in hard-nosed defense.

“I don’t believe in building a championship team on offense,” Bryant said two weeks ago after his exit interview with Lakers brass. “It has to be built on defense and rebounding, period.”

Brown’s reputation as an offensive coach was savaged during his time with the Cavaliers, who often appeared to be running a 1-on-5 scheme for James.

Bryant, who will turn 33 before next season, has similar ball-dominating tendencies _ but he also has more talent around him than James ever had in Cleveland, from 7-foot All-Star forward Pau Gasol to a bench led by Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom.

During an interview with Sirius XM Radio on Tuesday, Jerry Buss said the Lakers “won’t continue exclusively with the triangle” offense championed by Jackson.

The Lakers also showed interest in veteran coach Rick Adelman, who left the Houston Rockets last month, and Mike Dunleavy, the former Lakers and Clippers coach. Shaw was the favorite candidate among the current Lakers, with Derek Fisher and Bynum joining Bryant in throwing their support behind him.

But the Buss family has a history of idiosyncratic coaching hires, often from outside the organization. When Jackson left the Lakers for a year in 2004, they replaced him with former Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich, who resigned midway through his only season because of health issues.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has said the club is likely to return with largely the same veteran core that won the past two NBA titles before falling short this season. Los Angeles already has more than $85 million in salary committed to eight players for next season, likely meaning the Lakers will have the NBA’s largest payroll again next season.

___

AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.