With the recent firing of Byron Scott as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, former coach Mike Brown has been rumored to be a potential front-runner for the position. The ex-Cavalier was fired by the Los Angeles Lakers after five games this season, after posting a 41-and-25 record in his first year. Brown recorded a 272-and-138 with the Cavs, and is the all-time winningest coach in Cavaliers history by winning percentage.
When Brown was asked about a potential return to the Cavs bench, he said he would listen if they called. “If anybody calls, you have to listen. I’m not rushing to get back to (coaching). Whether it’s the Cavs situation or anybody else, it has to feel right for both sides”, he said in a phone interview.
Mike Brown seems to be the best candidate for the job. When Cavs GM Chris Grant was asked about hiring a new coach, he said that he will be, “defensive-minded, successful, a teacher and a grinder”. With Brown’s history of working 18 hour days, something that was never seen in Scott, and his previous record with the Cavs and Lakers, Brown fits Grant’s description perfectly. He is arguably the best defensive coach in the league.
So what would this mean for the Cavaliers? While most would say, “didn’t we learn about this the first time?”, I say you need to compare the two situations.
Let’s look at Brown’s first go-around as the head coach of the Cavaliers:
- Had the highest winning percentage (.663) in Cavaliers history
- Posted back-to-back 60 win seasons
- Advanced to the second round of the playoffs in each of his five seasons in Cleveland
- Had one of the top defenses in the league in each of his five seasons
- Had LeBron James
- Offense was a continuous problem for Brown
Now looking at the first four accomplishments, it can be said that the 5th line had a lot to do with the first four. In fact, it was the biggest reason why the first four were possible. Now that he is gone, it will definitely be a different situation then the first round as coach.
What the Cavs can offer:
Chris Grant can offer Brown four picks in this draft and three next year. The Cavs have around $20 million in cap space, and the roster has done a complete 180. Instead of a team of LeBron James and fillers, you have an All Star in Kyrie Irving. Tristan Thompson is quickly developing into a solid power forward, and rookies Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller are only going to get better.
It will be a different feel with Mike Brown, if he were to get hired. And as of now, all signs are looking like that is the way Dan Gilbert and Grant are going to go. Sources have said that there is mutual interest between the two, and no hard feelings were felt after the two split in 2010. Brown wouldn’t be thrown into a major rebuilding project, because of the previous three seasons under Scott. Next season, fans will expect the Cavs to contend for the playoffs after three straight seasons of Top-5 picks. A defensive mind like Brown would do wonders for this young team. The only thing separating Irving from becoming an elite NBA point guard is his defense, and Brown can get him there.
Would this affect a potential return by that one guy in 2014?:
I don’t like to talk about LeBron James returning to Cleveland after opting out of his contract after next season. It is still 15 months away from being possible, and the way Miami has performed this year, it would be hard to see him leaving. But many things can happen between now and then. With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement taking place very soon, Miami will not be able to afford the Big 3. The most likely scenario will be a trade of Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade could be walking on crutches by then. Staying away from turning this into a LeBron-fest, how would a return of Brown possibly affect a return of #6?
When James was here, every move was made to please him. Any free agent the Cavs were interested in went through LeBron first. Because of the lack of commitment through the final few seasons by James, it hurt the team more than it helped, and we saw what happened after his flee for South Beach in the 2010-11 season. Of course, the way the front office is run will be different from when James was here. It never appeared that Brown and James had a shaky relationship. Because of that, I can’t see Mike Brown as being the reason LeBron James wouldn’t return. If he were to not return, it would be for other reasons, like him feeling he has a better chance of winning somewhere else.
To sum it up:
Re-hiring Mike Brown would benefit Cleveland much more than not hiring him. While we would need an offensive assistant next to Brown, the defense he would bring to a team that has been desperate for it for the past three years would be much more beneficial. Brown could turn Kyrie Irving into an elite point guard, and continue the development of the young guys on our team. The Cavs front office can’t go into this process looking for a coach that could lure LeBron James back to Cleveland. We need a coach that can teach defense, develop players and compete for the playoffs soon. This is a vital part of our rebuilding process, and the wrong hire could hinder the development of the team. Brown would be a step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see where the Cavs go, and look for a potential hire in the next few weeks.