by Matt More cbssportsline.com
It was widely thought at the time that the Cavaliers' decision to fire Mike Brown following the 2009-2010 season was based largely on his inability to gain the support of LeBron James. James' impending free agency meant that the team was desperate to secure his services, and to prove it, cleaned house to convince him "this time it would be different." They let go of Brown and GM Danny Ferry (now in Atlanta), but James split anyway. Brown went on to coach the Lakers, where he guided them to a 41-25 record in his first year. Brown was fired after five games at the Lakers' helm this year.
But on Tuesday, James praised the hire, and expressed warm wishes toward his old coach.
"I'm happy for him," James told the Associated Press before the Heat's playoff game against Milwaukee. "Very happy for him. I think he's a really good coach, very defensive-minded coach. It'll be good for those young guys that they have."
That's awfully nice of James to say about the guy who he was at least in some part responsible for getting fired in the first place. There were constant rumors throughout his time in Cleveland that James did not listen to Brown and wasn't sold on him as head coach.
The question, though, is if the hiring of Brown precludes or prevents the Cavs from being in the race of James if he were to opt out in 2014. From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:
If firing Brown in 2010 didn't persuade LeBron to stay, who's to say hiring him will keep him from coming back? Or that hiring another coach would guarantee his return? When it comes to Cleveland and LeBron, it's time to move on.
There are no guarantees in any of this, so what the Cavs got was a coach who didn't just win 60-plus games two years in a row before going to the Lakers in 2011 -- they got a coach who won 60-plus games two years in a row for them. Some of the faces in the organization have changed, but the relationship and communication between an owner and coach are of paramount importance in a winning organization. The Cavs at least will have that. That's a start.