Mike Brown’s second stint in Cleveland didn’t last long.
After a 33-49 campaign where Kyrie Irving didn’t progress, where the Cavaliers offense was ugly and the defense not much better, after a season where the owner had expected to be in the playoff mix, approved mid-season deals for Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes, and still fell short of the postseason in a pathetic Eastern Conference, this shouldn’t be a surprise.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have fired Mike Brown. Again.
This time it was after one year. The first time it was in a desperate attempt to appease LeBron James but it was too late. They don’t want to make the same mistakes with Irving.
While this comes as a surprise to some people close to the organization thought Brown was in trouble the day GM Chris Grant was fired in February — Brown was his guy. What’s more, Brown was owner Dan Gilbert’s guy and reportedly Gilbert pushed for the hire to happen fast. If true, and if this is Gilbert admitting his mistake and letting his basketball guy make the basketball decisions, then that is a sign of maturity in running the organization.
Removing Brown is the first bold move of GM David Griffin, who just had his interim tag removed. He is trying to set up his team — a team that plays fast, launches threes and is fun to watch (Griffin comes out of the Phoenix school). That’s not a Mike Brown team, he is a micromanager who wants to play slow and control the action on the court with his play calls.
Don’t feel too bad for Brown, he will collect paychecks from both the Cavaliers and Lakers next season — he had time left on both of those contracts.
For the early list of replacements think guys with ties to Phoenix. Alvin Gentry, for one. Yes, Mike D’Antoni for another (although that seems less likely). Another name mentioned is Adrian Griffin, who is Luol Deng’s old coach (and the Cavs would like to keep Deng). Also watch for some up-and-coming college coaches that Griffin thinks can connect with and mold a young team lacking chemistry.
Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.
Jay Williams of ESPN:
A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”
Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.
Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.
The NBA’s invitations to the draft are a good indicator of when players will get drafted. The league samples executives, who are more likely to be honest here than in leaks to the media, about how they rank players. So, the list is worth monitoring.
The players who will attend tonight’s draft nearly match the leaks – with one exception. O.G. Anunoby is going, and Harry Giles isn’t.
Here are the players who will be at the draft – a reasonable placeholder for the players most likely to get picked in the top 20 – via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:
Harry Giles declined his invite sources told DraftExpress.
Did Giles decline his invite because, with his extensive injury history, he feared falling too far? Or did he just prefer to watch elsewhere?
Was Anunoby simply 21st on the NBA’s list of players to invite? Or was the league too unsure of his medical status to include him until getting a stronger grasp now?
I don’t know, but the possibility that Giles could slip or Anunoby is more secure alters my perception of their draft stock (Anunoby up, Giles down).
What has Phil Jackson actually done? He discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis with other teams and called the Knicks, not Porzingis, his priority. That’s it.
At face value, this is fine. It’s what devoted executives, not always Jackson, should do.
Jackson hasn’t traded Porzingis for meager return. He hasn’t traded Porzingis at all.
Everyone up in arms should take a deep breath.
Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:
David Aldridge of NBA.com:
I wouldn’t rule out the Knicks trading Porzingis. The No. 1 pick got traded, after all. I wouldn’t rule out them trading Porzingis for too little return. Look at Jackson’s track record running the front office.
But wait until they do before bashing Jackson for not understanding Porzingis’ value.
There are plenty of better reasons to criticize Jackson, including overseeing the toxic culture that led to Porzingis skipping his exit interview and setting this latest “crisis” into motion. Publicly discussing trading Porzingis won’t endear Jackson to the budding star, but the problem is how it reached this point. Players in sound organizations can handle this. Jackson has engendered little confidence from his players, the distrust existed well before this round of trade talks.
Lonzo Ball doesn’t play for the Lakers. LeBron James isn’t a free agent.
But they’re headed that way – and Ball is already embracing it.
The Lakers are expected to draft Ball No. 2 tonight, and rumors are heating up about LeBron leaving the Cavaliers in 2018.
Why should LeBron join Ball in Los Angeles?
Ball on ESPN:
LeBron, I like to win. I know you like to win. I think our games can help each other out a lot. Any time you want the ball, just let me know. It’s going to be there.
Ball was asked to to pitch LeBron, so it’s not as if Ball is out here talking so brashly on his own. But answering the question was a rookie mistake.
Besides, I’m not sure Lonzo Ball can undo the bad blood between LeBron and LaVar Ball.