The Lakers have reached a deal in principle with Mike Brown to take over as their new coach, a source confirmed to SI.com
The deal is worth approximately $18 million over four years, with the final year a team option.
The Lakers released a statement Wednesday confirming the team's hopes to make Brown the successor to Phil Jackson.
"We've met with Mike and are very impressed with him," said the statement issued by the Lakers' public relations department. "In addition, we have an outline for an agreement in place and hope to sign a contract within the next few days."
The move is believed to be driven by Jim Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president of player personnel and son of owner Jerry Buss, whose role was expected to increase with Jackson's departure.
Brown, the defensive-minded coach who took the 2010-11 season off after being fired by the Cavaliers last summer, was believed to be the front-runner for the Golden State vacancy as well.
He went 272-138 in five seasons with the LeBron James-led Cavaliers, taking the team to the Eastern Conference finals twice and the NBA Finals once (2007). Brown was also named Coach of the Year in 2009. But not long before James left his home state for Miami as a free agent last summer, Brown was let go despite going 127-37 in his final two regular seasons with the Cavs.
The source close to the Lakers told SI.com that Kobe Bryant was "surprised" by the news of the team's interest in Brown late Tuesday, and that he was not a part of the decision-making process. Bryant had been a staunch supporter of Lakers assistant Brian Shaw for the position.
Yet while the Lakers had also considered veteran coaches Rick Adelman and Mike Dunleavy for the job, Brown's reputation is far more in line with the type of coach Bryant had described during the team's exit interviews.
"If you're building a championship team, your DNA always has to start with the defensive end of the floor," Bryant said on May 11. "Always. I'm a firm believer in that. I don't believe in building a championship team on offense. It has to be built on defense and rebounding. Period."
The hiring of Brown is major piece of what should be an interesting offseason puzzle for the Lakers. Their collapse against Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals, in which they were swept, sparked speculation that the roster would be overhauled, with most of it fueled by Lakers legend and ESPN analyst Magic Johnson.