That’s right, Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal broke the most surprising news of the day: Mike Brown is back in Cleveland.
Mike Brown and the Cavaliers have reached a handshake agreement on a new deal, a league source told the Akron Beacon Journal on Tuesday. An official announcement should be made Wednesday.
As you may know, Brown was the coach of the Cavaliers just three years ago, only to be fired after back-to-back 60-win seasons in a failed attempt to appease LeBron James. Believe it or not, Brown is actually the most successful coach in Cavaliers history, and his .653 winning percentage ranks sixth all-time (minimum 450 games) among coaches.
Still, depending on who you ask, you’ll get different answers, in a much different context, about Brown’s sudden return to the wine and gold.
Some will say Brown deserved to be fired after Cleveland — winners of 66 and 61 games and the No. 1 seed in the East two years in a row — failed to make the Finals in 2009-’10. In fact, they failed to make the conference finals, and were prematurely eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the eastern semi’s.
They’ll cite Brown’s inability to formulate a successful offensive “system,” but will often fail to recall LeBron James’ mysterious decision to
tank his way out of town not play as hard as he could have.
They’ll point directly to the year before, when Brown was left scrambling on the sidelines while Stan Van Gundy and the Magic ran circles around him, upsetting the Cavs in six games with the NBA Finals on the line. Again, they’ll say Brown’s offense was too stagnant, that Cleveland couldn’t keep up.
But they’ll fail to mention that Cleveland may have simply ran into the freight train that was the 2008-09′ Magic at the worst possible a time (seriously, two of their starters have been hit with PED suspensions since). They were a matchup nightmare for a young, unathletic and terribly undersized Cavaliers team.
The Magic made 62 3-pointers — at a 40 percent clip — in just 6 games.
That is outstanding any way you look at it.
Even more outstanding? Dwight Howard shot 70 percent from the free throw line in that series. He’s a career 57 percent shooter from the line. It’s safe to say things weren’t going Cleveland’s way, regardless of who was on the sideline.
It’s those fans that Cavaliers’ owner, Dan Gilbert, and General Manager, Chris Grant, will have to sell their rehiring of Brown to.
But then there are those who are already sold.
They will point to Brown’s first-class defensive mind, which helped an underwhelming Cavaliers roster become a force on that end of the floor during his five-year tenure. The following chart is courtesy of the fine folks at WaitingForNextYear.com:
|Year||Def. Rating||Opp. PPG||Opp. eFG%|
Outside of LeBron James, this was with a core group varying of Mo Williams, Eric Snow, Larry Hughes, Damon Jones, a guy named “Boobie,” Sasha Pavlovic, Donyell Marshall, Jamario Moon, a young Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Did you know who five of those players were?
They’ll tell you that Brown has never missed the playoffs in his six years as a head coach. In fact, he’s never failed to make it out of the first round.
He coached the 2006-’07 Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, who are arguably the worst collection of players to make it to the NBA’s biggest stage in the history of the game. This was a team with a starting backcourt of Eric Snow and Daniel Gibson. On some nights Sasha Pavlovic if they were so lucky.
The bottom line is this, folks: The man can coach.
Cover all of the names on the top of the resumes and rank the coaches on the market in order of most appealing. Just as if you were looking to hire somebody to run your department store, your marketing department, whatever it may be. You want somebody with experience and demonstrated results.
Brown’s name will come out on top every time (Phil Jackson being excluded).
The Cavaliers are at a crossroads. They are 64-166 since Brown was dismissed. These last three years haven’t been easy for anybody: the team, the management or the fans.
Especially the fans.
But Grant and Gilbert have a plan, a plan they have methodically put to work over the last three years. It is close to coming full-circle, or completely bottoming out. The answer to that question will be answered in large part by the head coach they bring in.
Brown came to Cleveland in year three of the LeBron era and turned a young team with a clear disparity of talent into a perennial contender in the Eastern Conference (the last time I checked, Kyrie Irving is entering his third season). He instilled the defensive habits that have made LeBron James the all-world defender that he is today. And most of all, he engrained a winning culture into the organization.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, that culture was thrown out the door when they fired Brown three years ago.
Today, it is walking back in.
Onto more news around the NBA