Setting the bar high can sometimes backfire. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, we don’t know if that holds true just yet. Just a few days after Byron Scott was relieved of his duties following the closure of the 2012-13 NBA season, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Chris Grant made it clear that they were ready to find a replacement at head coach as soon as time allowed them to. This led to early rumors that former Wine and Gold head coach Mike Brown, who was fired after just five games this season by the Los Angeles Lakers, and coaching legend Phil Jackson would be candidates for the position.
After the dust settled, these “rumors” now have some truth to them. It may just be a coincidence that Brown is moving back to the Cleveland area, but it seems very likely that he could also become the coach for the Wine and Gold once again. For many this would seem like the most bizarre thing to ever happen in the history of the franchise — comparable to a girl friend saying that she had enough of you, spending time with another guy for three years and then realizing that you two were meant to be together after the last three years were chock full of painful memories — but as Gilbert has stated many times now, he wants a defensive-minded leader. Brown could be a good fit to fill that void (once again), as he is the Cavaliers’ franchise leader in winning percentage for both the regular season (66.3 percent) and postseason (59.2 percent).
According to WKYC sports producer Brian Crane, things are moving faster than some might have predicted. Gilbert and Brown were supposed to meet Sunday night for dinner, and it seems as if that meeting did end up taking place. No information on what was discussed is available at the moment, but don’t expect to hear anything soon on whether or not Brown will have the job with Phil Jackson on the phone line.
However, bringing back Brown may be justified considering his accomplishments with the Cavs for five seasons. After LeBron James’ early struggles with becoming the premier defender that would eventually transform him into one of the most menacing players to face on the planet, Brown made it his job to make sure that the transformation to superstardom would happen. That player that we now watch chasing down defenders and sending the ball 10 rows up had the same struggles with matching up against players that many say Kyrie Irving has now. In Brown’s fourth season coaching LeBron (it would be his sixth year in the league), James was the runner up for 2009 Defensive Player of the Year.
Brown’s offensive struggles and inability to incorporate the Princeton offense in Los Angeles may have Cleveland looking elsewhere at the same time. That’s where Jackson comes in, who the Cavaliers reached out to on Sunday to discuss the coaching vacancy. Bringing in Jackson would make attracting free agents to a city and team that not many teams are prioritizing at the moment a much easier task. Jackson, who said in January that he wasn’t interested in coaching again, recently stated that he is now ready to come back to the NBA in some form or another (that means he could be an executive of some sort). The Sacramento Kings (if they relocate) and Brooklyn Nets are both teams that Jackson would be interested in coaching as well. It would be interesting to see the Triangle Offense ran in Cleveland, as they would without a doubt have to look to free agency for players that would be able to make up the offensive blue print. He has the floor general in Kyrie Irving, but Tristan Thompson would have to develop into a much better low-post player at an extremely fast rate and they would need another shooting weapon at their disposal. It’s unlikely, but at least the Cavs reached out.
Some other coaching options include Scott Skiles (who was fired by the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this season), Brian Shaw (who is one of the highest regarded assistants in the league and is currently with the Indiana Pacers) and David Fizdale (another San Diego graduate who is currently with the Miami Heat). Make sure to check back on Right Down Euclid for any breaking news regarding the coaching search.