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The Hoop Doctors

Cleveland Cavaliers Fire Mike Brown After Five Ring-less Years

May 24, 2010 – Chip Patterson

When the defeated Cleveland Cavaliers left the floor in the TD Banknorth Garden, the LeBron James free agency madness began and the entire NBA world began to ponder what his future had in store.

Another Cavalier with an unsettled future was head coach Mike Brown.  It has been murmured for the last two weeks that the man who has paced the Cleveland sideline for the last five years would be removed from his seat, right before the final year of his contract.

The official word was released from Cleveland early Monday morning.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert made the decision to fire Brown following an organizational review that began following the Cavs’ stunning collapse. Cleveland, which had the best record in the NBA the past two seasons, had a 2-1 series lead over the Celtics before losing three straight, including the final two at home by a combined 50 points.

“After a long and deep analysis of all of the factors that led to the disappointing early ends to our playoff runs over the past two seasons, we concluded that it was time for the Cavaliers to move in a different direction,” Gilbert said Monday in a statement released by the team. “The expectations of this organization are very high and, although change always carries an element of risk, there are times when that risk must be taken in an attempt to break through to new, higher levels of accomplishment.

“This is one of those times.”

Brown’s tenure in Cleveland would be considered fairly successful by most standards.  The Cavs have had the best regular season record for two years running, and he was voted NBA’s Coach of the Year in 2009.  His .663 winning percentage is the best of any coach in franchise history, and his five playoff appearances are only matched by former Cleveland coach Lenny Wilkens.

But Mike Brown was held to a different standard in Cleveland.  In June 2005, the young coach was brought in to change the culture and deliver a championship alongside James, who was then beginning to develop into the superstar we know today.  Now in 2010, James is arguably the most sought-after talent in basketball while Cleveland continues to lack a championship.

The Cavaliers have 37 days until LeBron James can opt out of his contract and officially entertain offers from other teams.  It is believed that the organization will move quickly to try and have some sort of strategy in place by the time July 1 comes around and the madness of trying to resign James begins.

Regardless of any “package deal” rumors pairing LeBron with a big name coach like Los Angeles’ Phil Jackson or Kentucky head coach John Calipari, the fact of the matter is that if Cleveland wants to keep the reigning two-time MVP, they needed to show King James the organization was looking to make changes as well.

Cleveland now joins Philadelphia, New Orleans, Chicago, New Jersey, Atlanta and the Los Angeles Clippers as teams searching for a new head coach. With the Bulls, Nets, and Clippers in a position to make a run at one of the top free agents (and Cleveland attempting to re-sign James), it looks like the summer of 2010 will be just as dramatic for the coaches as it will be for the free agents.

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