All of a sudden the Lakers were without a coach and had a disgruntled superstar, so owner Jack Kent Cooke decided to look for someone with a proven record in college. He found that in Joe Mullaney, who had built Providence into a national powerhouse, leading the Friars to NIT championships in 1961 and 1963. The hope was that Mullaney would inject new enthusiasm into Wilt Chamberlain, but as it turned out the coach never got the chance. The Big Dipper ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee in a game against Phoenix early in the season and was out for most of the year. He was back by the playoffs and, despite a less-than-stellar 46-36 record, the Lakers made it to the finals, where they lost to the New York Knicks in seven games.
The next season, the Lakers went 48-34 to win the new Pacific Division, but they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Western Conference Finals and Cooke had seen enough. He fired Mullaney, who became the fifth coach of the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association.