- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Mike Brown got fired a year ago for winning just about everything but a championship while coaching LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And that’s still just a fraction of the pressure he’ll face in his new job in Hollywood.

The Los Angeles Lakers have reached an agreement in principle with Brown to succeed 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson, the team said Wednesday.

Brown will get a four-year deal worth roughly $18 million, a person with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Lakers hadn’t yet formally hired Brown.

“We’ve met with Mike and are very impressed with him,” said a statement issued by the Lakers. “In addition, we have an outline for an agreement in place and hope to sign a contract within the next few days.”

Brown certainly doesn’t shy away from a coaching challenge. After the Cavs dumped him following an otherwise successful five-year tenure, he’s moving to a storied franchise with a veteran superstar who’s only happy if they’re collecting titles in bunches.

Oh, and he’s replacing the coach with more rings than anybody in NBA history.

During an interview on ESPN during halftime of Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, Brown said he already had exchanged text messages with Kobe Bryant, who had endorsed Jackson assistant coach Brian Shaw for the job.

Brown is “looking forward to getting to know Kobe and being able to work with him to go and get us a championship,” he said.

With a strong interview last weekend, Brown jumped to the front of the line of candidates for the daunting task of succeeding Jackson, who retired earlier this month, with one of the NBA’s signature franchises. Brown will be the 22nd coach of the Lakers, whose 16 NBA titles trail only the Boston Celtics’ 17 in league history.

The 41-year-old Brown led the Cavaliers to the 2007 NBA finals and went 272-138 with Cleveland, becoming the most successful coach in franchise history while compiling the league’s best regular-season record in each of his last two seasons.

It wasn’t enough to save his job, but it clearly intrigued Lakers executive Jim Buss, who is changing his franchise’s course after an abrupt end to its two-year title reign and Jackson’s long-anticipated departure.

Shaw was the favorite candidate among the current Lakers, with Derek Fisher and Andrew Bynum joining Bryant in throwing their support behind him. Fisher tweeted his approval of Brown’s arrival late Wednesday.

“Will miss Phil but excited to start a new chapter under Mike Brown,” Fisher said. “Looking forward to a different style and energy!!”

The Lakers probably could use new energy after the prolonged farewell to the exhausted Jackson, who was persuaded to return for one last threepeat run after nearly quitting last summer. Jackson retired earlier this month after the Dallas Mavericks swept the Lakers out of the second round of the playoffs.

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