Posted Apr 27 2010 8:08AM
CHARLOTTE -- Wow, that was quick. Not the playoff series. Larry Brown's time with the Bobcats.
Yes, if another team is waving lots of power and money and a fresh start, then it must be that time again. The time when Larry Brown proclaims his love and devotion to his current employer, and in the same breath, leaves himself an out.
"I'm going home to see my family. Am I going to talk to them? Absolutely," Brown said, moments after the Bobcats were swept by Orlando.
And: "I'm not coaching for anyone except Michael Jordan ... if he wants me."
Which means, of course, Brown is leaving Charlotte and going to the next stop, Philly.
Say this about Brown: He's a better businessman than coach. And he's a great coach. So you get the picture. Sure, he'll cite family reasons; his wife and kids have lived in Philly all season and refuse to move to Charlotte. But there's also a raise involved, and clout as well, should the Sixers (as expected) offer him the general manager's job, too, to sweeten the pot. It'll all be settled in a matter of days, because Jordan, the Bobcats owner, wants to move on, one way or another, without the Brown issue hanging over the team's head here in the wake of their quick playoff exit.
Brown is leaving for the same reasons he left the Spurs, Clippers, Sixers, Pistons, Pacers, Nets, Knicks -- have we left anyone out? When he feels there's nothing more to be done in his current place, and somebody else is batting their eyelashes in his direction, that usually puts the wheels in motion. And those wheels have been churning throughout Brown's coaching career, which has become a parody of itself.
There's not many reasons to stick around in Charlotte, other than working for Jordan, someone Brown respects and enjoys very much. The Bobcats don't have a superstar, or a bubbling young talent ready to breakout, or a high draft pick, or any chance of elevating themselves among the big boys in the NBA anytime soon. Brown can only do so much with Tyson Chandler. Plus, although Stephen Jackson helped this team reach the playoffs for the first time in the franchise's six-year history, he's known for having bad divorces as well as glorious honeymoons.
So, rather than stick around, watch his team win 40-45 games in the near future and never get a lottery pick, or chase high-priced free agents and flirt with luxury tax issues, or deal with Jackson's moods, Brown realizes it's time to plot an exit strategy.
A member of the Bobcats' organization said: "Larry hasn't told his assistants that he's leaving. But with Larry, you know it's possible. Everyone here knows that."
What awaits him in Philly isn't exactly the 1986 Celtics. The Sixers, coming off a poor season, have their own issues: apathy, bloated payroll, lousy morale. But Ed Snider, the owner, will spend money. And the Sixers do own a lottery pick. And Brown would be home. Therefore, it's an upgrade.
The Bobcats became the only team to get swept in these playoffs, and they never really had a chance to extend their series with Orlando. Dwight Howard averaged only 26 minutes per game and the Magic still won four straight. Vince Carter, save for a brief stretch in Game 4, was a non-factor, and the Magic still won. Orlando shot only 41 percent in Game 4 and ... well, you know.
"They know how to play playoff basketball and we haven't figured it out yet," Brown said.
Now, the chess game begins. Here's a very possible scenario: The Sixers will ask Jordan for permission to speak with Brown, who will listen, then accept, citing family. Jordan will ask for compensation, because he's a businessman, too. Brown goes to Philly, the Bobcats go on a coaching search. Everybody's happy. Or at least satisfied.
Brown turns 70 soon but isn't done coaching. If that urge hasn't left by now, it never will. And he'll always be in demand. Remember, he can't change jobs this often unless people want him. And they do. He's a very good teacher, solid in-game coach and relates well with veterans. He has quirks that can drive a general manager crazy, and ultimately Brown comes with an expiration date, but teams are willing to deal with that because the potential payoff is so attractive.
In his last three stops, he spent two years in Detroit, one in New York and now two in Charlotte. Even by his standards, that's quick. He just took the Bobcats to the playoffs and a winning season and helped make pro basketball viable once again in Charlotte. Nobody will hold it against him when he leaves. Folks will just chalk it up to Larry being Larry.
And like him, everyone will just move on.
Shaun Powell is a veteran NBA writer and columnist. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
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