The decision to dismiss Mike Brown as Lakers head coach just five games into the season was based on the team's disappointing start and the organization's sense of urgency around a team that was built to contend for an NBA championship, the Lakers' general manager said Friday.
Brown was fired -- a decision Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak described as "difficult and painful" -- Friday after a 1-4 start to a season that began with aspirations for a 17th NBA title.
"It's really simple," Kupchak said at a Friday news conference. "It's wins and losses."
The move comes after an off season in which Los Angeles added two all-stars to a talented core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace. The team was off to a slow start and showed few signs of improvement, Kupchak said.
"We're not looking five or 10 years down the road," Kupchak said. "This team was built to contend this year."
Assistant Coach Bernie Bickerstaff will take over as interim head coach. A search for a new head coach will begin immediately, according to a team statement.
"It's certainly a possibility that you go to another team," Kupchak said. "I think it's a bigger possibility that you look to another team for an existing assistant coach."
The Lakers are scheduled to play Friday night at Staples Center against the Warriors. The game marks the first of six consecutive homes games, giving the Lakers an opportunity to get on track against a string of Western Conference foes.
The Lakers have the worst record in the West. Only winless Washington and Detroit -- the Lakers' lone win -- in the Eastern Conference have worse records.
"It's a pretty direct message to all of us,'' Gasol said when he left the Lakers' shootaround Friday in El Segundo. "There's no messing around. It's time for all of us to step it up.''
Kupchak told the team about the move Friday morning.
"He told us the decision was made,'' Gasol said. "We didn't have a good start, and this is a team that was built to win. That's what we're all here to do.''
Brown expressed optimism after Thursday's practice. He was asked what disappointed him most about the first five games.
"Before we beat Detroit, the two biggest areas were our turnovers and our inability to stop them converting the few offensive rebounds they got into points," Brown said. "Against Detroit, we did a better job of cleaning those areas up. I thought last night we continued to do a better job of continuing to clean those areas up."
Brown took over as Lakers head coach last season -- the 22nd coach in franchise history. He previously coached the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2005 to 2010.
The Lakers were 41-25 under Brown. LA was bounced in the second round of the playoffs by Oklahoma City last year.
Kupchak was asked about the system that Brown, heralded as a defensive coach, had in place. The system borrowed from the Princeton offense, so-named because of the Princeton University men's basketball team.
The offense emphasizes constant motion, passing, picks off the ball and cuts in the half court. Questions were raised as to whether that suited the players' talents, particularly a point guard with Nash's creativity.
"We did struggle to score," Kupchak said. "We introduced a new offense. I think to some degree it was unfair to be categorized as the Princeton offense. There was a lot more mixed into it."