When the news broke yesterday that the Kings had chosen Mike Brown as their new head coach, I was relieved. It wasn't the elation of having absolute confidence in the Kings new coach, it was relief that they hadn't chosen a worse option.
But the longer I reflect on the process to hire Mike Brown, the less relief I feel.
The Kings started off with what I felt was a rather inspiring pool of candidates. Darvin Ham, Will Hardy, Charles Lee, Mike D'Antoni, Mike Brown, Steve Clifford, and Mark Jackson. It was a mix of first time candidates, experienced coaches, offensive minds, and defensive minds. But as the process continued it became clear that the Kings truly care about two things: defense and experience.
And if that's what the Kings wanted from their next head coach, why did they assemble the pool that they did?
If the Kings wanted a defensive focus, why did the Kings bother interviewing D'Antoni? If the Kings wanted experience, why did they waste the time of Darvin Ham, Charles Lee and Will Hardy? And if the goal was experienced coaches, why didn't the Kings interview coaches like Kenny Atkinson, Terry Stotts, or Frank Vogel?
Perhaps Mike Brown still would have emerged from that group, but it feels like the initial candidate pool was less about collecting a group of candidates who fit what the Kings wanted, and more like a candidate pool meant to check off every box and generate excitement from various factions of fans, even if it ultimately led to disappointment.
In the coming days and months we may learn even more about the process behind the coaching search, but it's hard to have faith in this organization when Mark Jackson was a credible threat to beat out Brown. It's hard to trust that this was a methodical coaching search when we once again had reports that Vivek was overly involved and could overrule his basketball decision makers. The fact that Vivek allowed McNair to pick his head coach should be a standard expectation, not something the fan base should feel excited abd relieved about.
It's not my intention to take anything away from Mike Brown. If the Kings wanted experience and defense, Mike Brown is an excellent candidate. Of the three finalists for the job, Brown is the youngest, has the most coaching experience, and has the best career win% as a coach. But it's hard to take the decision seriously when it feels like Brown didn't actually beat out the pool. Over half the pool never even stood a chance, according to what the team was actually wanting in their next coach. And Brown vs Jackson wasn't a battle of merit so much as a battle of GM vs Owner. I believe the Kings hired the best candidate of their three finalists, I just wish I had confidence in the process that got us here.
Hopefully none of this matters. I hope Brown is the right man for the job and can bring us back to success, no matter how he got the job. But in the league where we often hear about trusting the process, we're left to ignore the process and trust the results.