Stability is never guaranteed in the coaching ranks. For Mike Brown, it's hardly even an option.
While it's obviously not a popular opinion, if Brown were ever given a chance to succeed, he might actually surprise some people.
In his last two stops, the 44-year-old has coached a total of 87 games for the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. For a town that loves to ax coaches after one year, Cleveland has now done so twice in less than a year.
But that's beside the point. What's more pressing here is the fact that Brown simply isn't being given a chance at any stop he's made recently. In fact, despite his poor season this year, Brown still holds records with the Cavs, as ESPN Stats & Info notes:
Mike Brown had the best win percentage among head coaches in Cavaliers franchise history— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 12, 2014
Mike Brown is the only Cavs head coach to take the team to the NBA Finals— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 12, 2014
OK, so most of those wins came with LeBron James leading the charge. But he also had a team that bought into his philosophy of defense-first basketball.
In 2009-10, Brown's final team with James in Cleveland not only was productive on offense, but also ranked near the top of the league defensively. That year's team averaged 102.1 points per game while allowing just 95.6 per game.
Needless to say, it wasn't just James and Co. playing great offense, but also buying into the system. But that's not the way the NBA works. Even Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, the man who fired Brown, admits the league is fast-paced, per the team's release:
This is a very tough business. It pains all of us here that we needed to make the difficult decision of releasing Mike Brown. Mike worked hard over this last season to move our team in the right direction. Although, there was some progress from our finish over the few prior seasons, we believe we need to head in a different direction.
That's a pretty huge change from his words when the team initially hired Brown back during the offseason. Gilbert spoke highly of Brown's return to Cleveland, per Jeff Zillgitt and Sam Amick of USA Today:
"When you get the benefit of hindsight, it was a mistake. We're very happy that we get to rectify any position we took back then by Mike being available right now."
Does Brown deserve another shot in the NBA?
Was this another mistake? Maybe not for Cavaliers fans. But was he really ever given a shot to succeed?
What has been missing from Brown's last two stops is allowing him to have freedom. With the Los Angeles Lakers, albeit just five games in his final season, only one player on the roster was a great defensive player—Kobe Bryant.
This past season, offensive stars such as Kyrie Irving improved defensively, finishing the season with 108 steals. Despite his progress on that end of the floor, it will never result in wins if not given time to blossom.
Even James appears to feel sympathy for his former coach, via Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald:
LEBRON on firing of Mike Brown: "It’s a tough business and Mike Brown got the short end of a tough business."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) May 12, 2014
So where could Brown wind up? The perfect situation for the former Lakers and Cavaliers coach would be in a small market. Not only can coaches hide away and develop young players in small markets, but they are also typically given more time.
Was Brown's success just a byproduct of coaching an emerging superstar? Maybe. Will he ever reach the Finals again? No, probably not. But does he deserve a shot at leading a team for the life of a contract he signs? Yes, and he might get that chance.
All he needs is stability.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter.