Los Angeles: NBA basketball team Lakers sacked coach Mike Brown after a poor start to the season, team`s general manager Mitch Kupchak said.
The Lakers lost their first three games before their lone victory -- a 108-79 triumph over winless Detroit last Sunday.
After a 95-86 setback at Utah Wednesday, speculation surrounding Brown`s job status was rampant.
Brown was just beginning his second year as Lakers coach. The team was 41-25 during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season and lost to Oklahoma City in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The firing came Friday only hours ahead of the Lakers` home game to Golden State.
Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff was the in-charge on an interim basis.
A search for a new head coach is already under way.
"This was a difficult and painful decision to make," Kupchak said.
"Mike was very hard-working and dedicated, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to make a change at this time."
The Lakers have the worst record in the Western Conference but have NBA`s largest payroll at more than USD 100 million, one that would spark a luxury tax hit of more than USD 30 million dollars for owners by the end of the season.
Superstar guard Kobe Bryant has struggled with a foot injury while nagging injuries and his "death stare" glare at Brown during a loss Wednesday to Utah might have hinted his feelings about Brown, who has almost three years remaining on a four-year deal worth USD 18 million.
Injuries have also hampered the team`s two star off-season acquisitions, guard Steve Nash and centre Dwight Howard.
Howard is still trying to find top form after back surgery earlier this year while Nash has been healthy for only one full game so far this season because of a leg injury.
Former Lakers star player, coach and part-owner Magic Johnson said in a Twitter posting that he never thought Brown should have been coaching the Lakers.
"Feel bad for Coach Mike Brown, who`s a great guy, but don`t think he was the right guy for the job in the first place," Johnson tweeted.
Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who guided the Lakers to five NBA titles before retiring in 2011, was among those mentioned as possible replacements. Brown replaced Jackson in the job before the start of the last season.
The Lakers went 41-25 under Brown last season, losing to Oklahoma City in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
Brown coached Cleveland from 2005-2010, guiding the team to the 2007 NBA finals when LeBron James was sparking the Cavaliers` attack. Brown went 272-138 during his time in Cleveland.
First Published: Saturday, November 10, 2012, 14:09