NBA: Larry Brown to Grizzlies? Good-bye, Darko

Kendrick CoContributor IMarch 27, 2008

Rumors are now flying around that Larry Brown is in line to replace Marc Iavaroni as the Memphis Grizzlies head coach for the next season.

If that is true then it means two things. One, Iavaroni's long overdue head coaching gig will be unfairly short-lived. The second implication is that Darko Milicic's career may be at another crossroad.

It has been a couple of years since Larry Brown last "coached" Darko, yet I'm sure those three years that Darko spent in Detroit under Brown are painfully fresh in his mind.

How would you feel after having been drafted second overall just behind LeBron James and then spending the next three years sitting on the bench being ridiculed by just about everybody who follows the NBA?

Well that was Darko's reality back then and it has taken two fresh starts (Orlando and Memphis) for him to finally start showing some signs of basketball life.

Granted, his averages (seven ppg, six rpg, 1.7 bpg) aren't overwhelming to say the least but, it's undeniable that Darko has emerged past the bust level and made himself into a serviceable big man, and potentially one of the better defensive centers in the NBA.

So why then is Larry Brown entering his life again?

Larry Brown is a heck of a coach and despite his numerous achievements, not to mention a championship, he still feels like he has a lot to prove coming off his last coaching stint with the Knicks.

The problem is, I don't think this Memphis team will be a great fit for Brown primarily because he does his best job leading teams with young veterans on the cusp of contending, something this Grizzlies team is certainly not.

Furthermore, he does not have a strong track record taking young inexperienced teams to the next level, not even an inclination of giving young players much rope to make mistakes and learn from them.

How will he deal with young point guards Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, and Javaris Crittenton? Will he be able to get through to burgeoning star Rudy Gay or an emerging young big such as Hakim Warrick?

The only guys Larry Brown will most likely get along with on this team are Jason Collins and Brian Cardinal.

And let's not even get started with Kwame Brown!

Truth is, if Larry Brown's handling of Darko in his early years in the NBA is any indication, he should not be the coach of this young Grizzlies team.

He took what was a versatile power forward prospect with a nice jumper from the outside, decent ball handling for a seven-footer, and a willingness to mix it up inside, and made him into a 7-foot stiff who oftentimes played like he was afraid of his own shadow. 

We may never really know what Darko Milicic could have been had he been under a coach who understood the type of talent he was instead of pigeonholing him under the basket just because of his height.

Think of what would have happened to Dirk Nowitzki if Larry Brown was his coach during his rookie year. Would we still see the same Dirk now, a sweet-shooting 7-footer who revolutionized the PF position or will Dirk have turned out much like Darko is now?

We will never know the answer to these questions, but if the Memphis Grizzlies care about the future of their young team, it's best to pass on Larry Brown and avoid having to ask themselves questions like these down the road.