I blame Johnny Football for the firing of Mike Brown. Not really, but it’s funny how the machine that is Cleveland sports works. As the saying goes, “when one door closes another one is about to shut louder.” Huh? That’s not something that wise people say? While the Browns have dominated headlines the last few days with their draft strategy, the Cavs managed to make a some noise of their own on Monday by firing their head coach, Mike Brown, AGAIN.
So Mike Brown leaves the franchise with best winning percentage of any Cavalier head coach and they only coach to take a team to the NBA Finals. While those don’t seem like fireable offenses, I do believe that this was the right move for the franchise. In fact, I don’t think it was the right move to hire him back for a second stint with the team. Mike Brown is a defensive head coach that needs a team that has strong veteran leadership to lead it’s young stars. He came from the Greg Popovich coaching tree which is actually really unfair for Brown as far as expectations go. Pop started with a team full of strong veterans and filled it in with draft picks like Duncan, Parker and Ginobili. He could be tough on his younger players and still get the full support of his veterans. It’s Pop’s way or the highway.
Mike tried to use that same approach during both stints with the Cavs and failed. He benched Kyrie and Dion for guys like Dellavedova to try to motivate his star players. I don’t blame him for trying to get his best young players to buy into his system, but it never seemed like he had the full support of all of his veteran players. He didn’t make the trades or make draft Anthony Bennett #1 overall, but he should have been able to command the respect of his team. I remember covering a home game late in November against the Wizards. The Cavs came out flat and eventually woke up in the 4th quarter to make the game close, but they still lost. After the game, Brown was asked if he had already lost the team. We were just weeks into the season and it was already doubt that Brown could even connect with his players.
So now its on to the next one. The Cavs are a young team and need a coach that is wants to develop young talent. The days of burying draft picks on the bench must go away. I believe in David Griffin and I was impressed with some of the moves he made to try to salvage the season, but even he knows that we can only build this team through the draft and develop the guys we have. Cross Mike D’Antoni, Vinny Del Negro, Lionel Hollins and any Spurs assistant off your list. Show me guys like Mark Price, Mark Jackson, and Fred Hoiberg. My out of the box head coach pick would be Shaka Smart, but that can be saved for another post. Whoever it is, they have to be proven talent developers.
For now, step 1 is complete. Let’s hope this head coaching search is a little more thorough than the last one. As for Mike Brown, I hope he spends his free time researching inbound plays.
Follow Josh Lockwood on Twitter @RCFJLockwood