So we have some Mike Brown news today. Care to guess what it is?
Was he fired? Nope. Was he given the dreaded ‘vote of confidence’? Nope. Has he hired an offensive assistant? Nah. Did he announce that someone else will be coaching the 3rd quarters of games? Nope.
It’s not any of those, it’s something better: he was given a two-year extension and he’s now signed through the 2010-11 season. Of course he was.
I’ve had my issues with Brown in the past (and by past I mean last week) and quite frankly, this news really surprised me.
The Coach Mike defenders will point to the fact that Brown got the Cavs to their first NBA Finals, that he beat a superior Pistons team to get there and that he’s won 100 games in his first two seasons. He has the most playoff wins in Cavs history (though when Wilkens coached, the first round was 5 games and the East didn’t suck ass) and his Cavalier teams are more than solid defensively.
This is all true.
This is Brown’s third year and the Cavs still haven’t settled on an offense. They frequently come out of halftime looking like they’ve never seen a basketball before. The Cavs have had basically the same roster for Brown’s entire tenure and he still can’t settle on a decent rotation. The Cavaliers routinely have quarters where they score less than 20 points and they often blow games to bad teams (like the Knicks, Bobcats, etc). I don’t like that he doesn’t work the refs like the great coaches do (he rarely voices complaints like Jackson, Riley, Brown et al) and he doesn’t get thrown out in order to prove a point.
Has he improved? Sure. He’s stopped falling back on Eric Snow. He’s at least willing to experiment with lineup changes (he even started Daniel Gibson last season). He knows what his weaknesses are (at least he’s self aware) and he does try to improve (though I still want him to sign a Tex Winter/Del Harris type assistant). And hell, we are starting to see actual plays coming out of time outs (a back door pass? Huzzah!).
But an extension? Was this really necessary? Brown was signed through next year anyways. There’s a lot of games to be played between now and then and I wasn’t entirely sure that Brown shouldn’t have been on the hot seat.
However, the extension does accomplish some things. The extension sends a message to certain players (Larry Hughes, Damon Jones, Ira Newble) that Coach is going to be here awhile. Make all the fuss you want, but you aren’t going to get this guy fired. Danny Ferry or Dan Gilbert simply making a statement in Brown’s favor doesn’t accomplish that (in fact, it just fuels speculation). Plus, it’s not like Gilbert can’t turn around and fire Brown tomorrow if he so desired (it’s not like the extension counts against the cap and it’s not my money they’d be throwing down the drain).
What this extension does is give Brown credibility and peace of mind. He’s the coach today, he’ll be the coach tomorrow and he has full backing of management (and, more than likely, LeBron). He can coach without looking over his shoulder or reading the papers. And in that respect, I like the signing.
He is a young coach who should improve. He did beat a Piston team that was more talented than the Cavaliers (ya, LeBron went off, but you don’t beat a team you shouldn’t without a good coach). I still have issues with some of his tactics and style, but Brown manages to win more than he loses.
But hell, if he gets an extension through ’10-11 for this season, imagine how long he’d be signed if the Cavs didn’t collapse in the 3rd quarter…