The Los Angeles Lakers have fired head coach Mike Brown in the wake of a 1-4 start.
Brown, just beginning his second year at the helm, was informed of the decision on Friday morning.
"This was a difficult and painful decision to make," said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak in a statement on Friday. "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. We appreciate Mike's efforts and contributions and wish him and his family the best of luck."
Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff took over as interim coach for Friday's game against Golden State. The Lakers won, 101-77. The search for a full-time head coach will begin immediately.
The Lakers were winless in the preseason and lost their first three games of the regular season before their first victory -- a 108-79 triumph over winless Detroit on Sunday. After a 95-86 setback at Utah on Wednesday, rumors surrounding Brown's job status were rampant.
Brown guided the Lakers to a record of 41-25 during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, which ended with a loss to Oklahoma City in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The Lakers underwent a few changes in the offseason, most notably the August acquisition of center Dwight Howard from Orlando as part of a four-team, 12- player blockbuster. Los Angeles also picked up two-time MVP Steve Nash as a free agent.
Howard and Nash have been slowed by injuries early in the season, and there was also speculation that Brown and superstar Kobe Bryant didn't exactly see eye-to-eye.
Brown was tabbed as Phil Jackson's replacement in May 2011 and had three years remaining on a reported four-year, $18 million contract.
"I have great respect for the Buss family and the Lakers' storied tradition and I thank them for the opportunity they afforded me," said Brown in a statement. "I have a deep appreciation for the coaches and players that I worked with this past year and I wish the organization nothing but success as they move forward."
Jackson's name has again come up for a potential third go-round with the Lakers. He spent five seasons as head coach from 1999-2004, then sat out a year before returning for a six-year run. The Lakers won five titles under Jackson's watch.
The Los Angeles Times said other long-term candidates for the high-profile position include former NBA head coaches Mike D'Antoni, Jerry Sloan and Nate McMillan.
Former Lakers assistant Brian Shaw could also be in the mix. Shaw was apparently Bryant's choice as Jackson's replacement before Brown was hired.
Prior to joining the Lakers, Brown had a successful five-year run as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2005-10. He guided the LeBron James-led club to a record of 272-138 with playoff appearances each year. The Cavs reached the NBA Finals in the spring of 2007 and were swept by San Antonio.
Patience hasn't always been a Lakers' virtue when it comes to head coaches. Del Harris was fired just 12 games into the lockout-shortened 1999 season after a 6-6 start.