Who Will Replace Mike Brown? Five Coaching Candidates For Cavs To Consider

Sam TothContributor IIIMay 24, 2010

The Cavaliers fired Mike Brown last night. So who is going to replace him?

Conventional wisdom says they'll go for a high-profile, well established head coach. I agree with the conventional wisdom. They already tried the "rising assistant" approach and failed.

I know Mike Brown's resume says he is the most successful head coach in Cavaliers history. But no other coach had LeBron James. The bottom line is that he won zero rings, made baffling in-game decisions in critical times and became a lightning rod for jokes to national sports writers such as Bill Simmons.

Regardless, as is with all break ups, the best thing to do is move forward and not look back. Waiting...1...2...3... Yup! I'm good with it. Time to move on.

Like all things this Cavaliers offseason, the coaching search will center around LeBron.

Here's the Catch-22:

  • The Cavs want to hire a high-profile coaching candidate in order to help persuade LeBron to stay in Cleveland.
  • No high-profile coaching candidate is coming to Cleveland unless LeBron is for sure staying in Cleveland.

It's a classic chicken-and-the-egg conundrum. For Cavalier fans eagerly waiting, its a vicious circle.

Nonetheless, here are five coaching candidates that the Cavs should consider.

  1. Phil Jackson
    Age: 64
    NBA Titles: 10
    NBA Career Record: 832-316 (.735)

    If the goal is to win titles, this guy has got to be at the top of anyone's list. He knows how to handle superstars (MJ and Kobe), build an offense around them, and most importantly: win titles with them.

    According to Ric Bucher, Phil Jackson and the Cavaliers culture mix about as well as "oil and water." Whatever. LeBron is the next great superstar in this league and he needs a coach that is bigger than him to help him grow. Phil Jackson can be that guy. How do we know he can be that guy? Because he's already been that guy. Twice.

    But why would he come to Cleveland?
    a) Money—Dan Gilbert has plenty of it and is willing to spend it on the Cavaliers. Plus, if it helps LeBron stay, it would be quite the sound investment.
    b) The Third Superstar—He's had the advantage of coaching two of the NBA's premier superstars in their primes. Now he has a chance to coach LeBron James in his prime.

    OK, but why wouldn't he come to Cleveland?
    a) His girlfriend is the daughter of the Lakers owner.
    b) He likes the big city.
    c) Bill Simmons thinks he'll get a "godfather" type offer from the new Nets owner, aka Mutant Russian Mark Cuban. So it could all be moot.

  2. Mike Krzyzewski
    Age: 63
    NCAA Titles: 4
    NCAA Career Record: 868–279 (.757)

    To be honest, Phil Jackson and Coach K are really 1) and 1a) in my book. Jackson would normally be the clear front runner, but maybe Bucher's "oil and water" comment rang truer to me than I had let on. Oh well.

    Now, onto Coach K. First of all: he's 63? Huh? The guy has got less gray hairs than me. And I'm 22. I didn't see that one coming. I bet he wins all sorts of prizes at Cedar Point guessing game booths.

    Seriously though, I know he has no experience coaching in the NBA, but by all accounts Coach K did a remarkable job revamping the Olympic team leading them to a gold medal last year. He developed a strong relationship with LeBron James and James seemed to respect him.

    But why would he come to Cleveland?
    a) Money—Same as above. But maybe moreso a factor than with Jackson, because he'll never be able to make the kind of money in college that Gilbert might offer.
    b) Legacy—He's already won an NCAA title. He's already won an Olympic Gold Medal. The only thing left on his coaching resume is to win an NBA title. If he does that, he goes down as one of the top coaches in NBA history. Period.

    OK, and why wouldn't he?
    a) He's already got a great thing going on right now. He's a living legend among Duke folk. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    b) He doesn't feel like writing "Krzyzewski" a million times on all the paperwork that would involve him leaving Duke and moving to Cleveland.

  3. Lenny Wilkens
    Age: 72
    NBA Titles: 1
    NBA Career Record: 1332-1155 (.536)

    Despite the old age, Wilkens recently said he would come back to coach the Cavs. With 1,300-plus victories under his belt and a NBA title to his name, he certainly has a pretty solid resume to say the least. He is another guy who is big enough to humble LeBron James.

    The age is certainly something to worry about. But if he says he can come back and be excited about it, doesn't that at least warrant a call?

    But why would he come to Cleveland?
    a) Money—Noticing a trend?
    b) Titles—Wilkens is regarded as one of the best to have coached in this league. But I bet he'd love to at least double his current title count and solidify his place among history.

    Why wouldn't he?
    a) He's 72.
    b) Bob just beat his high score at Wii Bowling at the Shady Acres retirement home. An anonymous source said Lenny is pissed about it.

  4. Tom Izzo
    Age: 55
    NCAA Titles: 1
    NCAA Career Record: 364–146 (.714)

    Wait... Am I really considering someone under 60? Yes. I am.

    Izzo is one of the premier college coaches in the game. He preaches tough defense and rebounding, which is something I liked about Brown, and is a great in-game strategist, which is something I disliked about Brown. So I think I like him more than Brown.

    He's got a fiery personality and seems like he would be able to motivate a basketball team to get them pumped for a game.

    But why would he come to Cleveland?
    a) Money—Yup. There's a trend.
    b) MSU connection—Read today from Windhorst that Gilbert is a Michigan State graduate and is a fan of Tom Izzo's.

    Why wouldn't he?
    a) Like Coach K, he's got a good thing going for him right now.
    b) He's afraid to leave the Izzone.

  5. Byron Scott
    Age: 49
    NBA Titles: 0
    NBA Career Record: 352-355 (.498)

    Of all the candidates I've listed here , I think Scott is the only one who would come to Cleveland with or without LeBron James. Unlike Jackson, Coach K and Izzo, he doesn't have a good coaching gig already that we'd need to lure him away from. And unlike Wilkens, he's not over 70 and in need of an overly enticing coaching job to get him back in the game.

    I know he has zero titles and a below .500 regular season record, but hear me out.

    Although he never won an NBA Championship, he has been to the big show twice. And although he has a below average regular season record, his postseason record is 33-24 (.579) which is pretty respectable.

    But why would he come to Cleveland?
    a) Money—What can I say? Money talks.
    b) Third chance—Scott is too young to be done with coaching. He has never said that as far as I know, but if I am 49 and lost twice in the NBA Finals? I'm eager to get back on that horse.

    OK, so why wouldn't he?
    a) Apparently he's being courted by the Bulls as well. So he does have some options. Crap.
    b) His moustache will always be second best to Colt McCoy's.

I repeat: The prevailing theme in this whole coaching search? LeBron James. Everything hinges on the Akron Hammer.

There is no way any of those guys (except maybe Scott) come to Cleveland without LeBron. And, in my opinion, there is no way LeBron comes back to Cleveland unless they land one of these guys.

As for firing Brown, I think it had to be done. Apparently LeBron didn't tell the Cavs he preferred Brown to stay or leave... but if he wanted him to stay, he could have stopped it.

So LeBron may have never said anything about wanting Brown gone. But sometimes, what you do speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say.


For this story, plus more, check out: http://lebrontourage.org


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