Sunday, May 29, 2005

Browns coming to town

So the Cavaliers have hired Mike Brown to be the head coach. You can read all the details here. Who is he? Well, the first thing you are going to hear is that he's young. Um, he's young and he's not Phil Jackson.

Well, that's true, he's just 35. In fact, he's been 35 for just two months. And he's not Phil Jackson or Flip Saunders, who a lot of fans wanted and who Jim Paxson would've hired if he were still the general manager. But Cavs owner Dan Gilbert actually believes he's found the next Phil Jackson in Brown. I'm serious, he's told people that.

It isn't that Brown is 35, he's been in the league since he was 22 so he has experience. It's that he's a first-time head coach. He's never been a head coach on any level. That means the margin for error is much smaller and the Cavs really don't have much of a margin for error right now. That's why Saunders would've been safer.

But with Larry Brown looming as the potential boss, no coach with a real choice would take the Cavs job. Not with LB hanging back there in the bullpen ready to take over when he feels like it. Plus, with cash coming for LB, the owners weren't looking to lay out huge dollars for head coach.

That said, everyone I talked to said good things about Mike Brown, calling him a perfect head coach in waiting. He's focused on defense, which was very important to Gilbert, but he also has a good history of developing players. Perhaps it'll be a great investment. But perhaps one of a dozen hot shot assistants hit it big as head coaches. For every Rick Carlisle, there's a basket of coaches who don't work out.

For the moment, however, I am much more interested in just how Gilbert is going to explain himself. He told everyone he planned to hire a GM/president first and the a head coach. So, either, A) he's violated his word and started building the team the exact opposite way that everyone knows is the right way. Or, B) He knows Larry Brown is going to take the job despite the fact that the Pistons are supposed to be playing for a championship and isn't LB supposed to be scheming and signing off on a new head coach for another NBA. That ought to go over real well.

Look, I'm not saying I could do any better. But Gilbert has already made some mistakes and right now he's trying to thread a needle. Hey, it's his money so it's his call. But if he thinks hiring Larry Brown is going to trigger the media to throw a ticker tape parade, he can forget it. If he was going to coach, OK, that's something different. As a president? The guy wanted to trade Allen Iverson a bunch of times. If LeBron has a bad practice, will he want to do the same? I can't predict what the fan base will think, but don't expect the media to line up to swallow kool aid.

Hey, maybe Gilbert will look like a genius in the end. He's used to that with his companies so we'll see if it carries over, I guess.

For more, check out my Sunday column and Terry Pluto's view.

Take care,