Cleveland Cavaliers coaching search: Mike Brown interested in return to Cleveland

Kevin C. Cox

It appears that the Cavaliers have interest in bringing back Mike Brown to coach the team. The big question is whether or not the interest is mutual.

As you've probably seen by now, the Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to get the band back together. After firing Byron Scott, they reportedly expressed interest in talking to Mike Brown about a return to Northeast Ohio. It seems as though the Cavs are serious about pursuing that option, but would Brown be open to the idea of coaching the team that he was fired from just a few years ago? It sounds like he would be, according to ESPN.com.

It's no secret that Mike Brown was moving his family back to the Cleveland area even before the coaching vacancy appeared. We know that his son is going to play basketball at Butler and that his other children are going to finish high school in the area. Of course, this isn't enough to suggest that he'll come back and coach the Cavs. But it might help.

On the surface, Mike Brown's stint with the Cavs was the direct opposite of Byron Scott's experience. Brown went 272-138 and never missed the playoffs. I don't have to remind you about how bad the Cavs have been since Brown left and Scott took over. Obviously there are factors beyond the coaches, but if the Cavs are looking for a proven winner with a reputation as a good defensive coach, you could do worse than Mike Brown.

"Brown left Cleveland on good terms with owner Dan Gilbert and he's tight with general manager Chris Grant, a close friend since college. Earlier this week, Grant said the team's new coach would have to be defensive-minded, a teacher, hard worker and "grinder," and that would aptly describe the affable Brown."

But would this be a good idea? After all, we all saw those excellent Mike Brown-led teams fall apart in the playoffs. I don't think it's outlandish to say that Brown was outcoached by Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers on a couple of occasions. That said, he's not the one that made Mo Williams suddenly forget out to shoot and he's not the one who gave Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis performance enhancing drugs. Were his rotations a little wonky at times? Yeah. Was there second-guessing that could be done? Of course there was. But you can do that after anytime a team loses in the playoffs. For comparisons sake, go back and watch the last series that Phil Jackson coached with the Lakers. Rick Carlisle made Jackson look incompetent as the Mavericks swept a relatively loaded Lakers team.

And for those concerned about a "retread coach," consider the fact that almost everything has changed since Brown left Cleveland. The only player that is still around from the Mike Brown days is Anderson Varejao. Danny Ferry has been replaced by Chris Grant. Heck, they even changed the uniforms. The only things that are the same are the team name and the fact that Dan Gilbert is the owner.

Furthermore, and I know people don't like this, Mike Brown may still have a good relationship with LeBron James. When asked about the possibility of Brown returning to Cleveland, James said, "It should be. It should be real."

Everybody that I've talked to say that James and Brown have a pretty good relationship. LeBron said this about Mike Brown after the Lakers fired him just 5 games into the season:

"I just don’t think he got a fair shake, honestly," James said after the Miami Heat's victory Friday in Atlanta, according to The Palm Beach Post. "With the shortened (66-game) season last year, five games into this season, he really didn’t get a full season. I got a lot to say, but I’m not going to say it right now."

We know that the Cavaliers are going to try to get LeBron to come back to Cleveland next summer. If they have a coach in place with a good relationship with LeBron, that'd be an advantage.

If the rumors about Mike Brown and the Cavs heat up a bit more, we'll have more analysis about Brown as a coach. But for now, it seems like the possibility is real. And it seems like he fits a lot of the criteria that Chris Grant is seeking to fill. And he has a good relationship with the biggest free agent target in Cleveland sports history. I know we have some bad memories, but I think we could do a lot worse.

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