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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Firing done with James in mind


Associated Press

Of the many reasons the Cleveland Cavaliers had for firing coach Mike Brown after five seasons without an NBA title, one mattered most.

They can't lose LeBron James.

Less than two weeks after their stunning, second-round loss to Boston in the playoffs, the Cavaliers fired Brown yesterday, an expected move that perhaps indicates the team believes it can re-sign James, the two-time MVP and free agent-in-waiting.

Brown was the most successful coach in franchise history. In five seasons, he led the Cavs to the playoffs every year, to the finals in 2007 and to 127 wins in the past two seasons. But Brown failed to win a title, and after Cleveland's second straight early postseason exodus a collapse that included two blowout losses at home and dissension in the Cavs' locker room and with James about to explore free agency, owner Dan Gilbert decided to make a change.

"After a long and deep analysis of all of the factors that led to the disappointing early ends to our playoff runs over the past two seasons, we concluded that it was time for the Cavaliers to move in a different direction," Gilbert said in a statement."

While James did not call for Brown's head, it was clear during the Boston series that James and his coach were not on the same page.

There's no indication Gilbert has reached out to anyone yet but the top-tier candidate list would include people like Phil Jackson of the Los Angeles Lakers, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, Michigan State's Tom Izzo or Kentucky's John Calipari.

ELSEWHERE

Hornets: Boston assistant Tom Thibodeau is the leading candidate to fill New Orleans' coaching vacancy and the team could offer him the job this week, according to a person familiar with the process.

Pacers: Indiana guard A.J. Price will need 4-6 months to heal from a knee injury he suffered while playing in a charity basketball game. Price fractured the patella tendon in his left knee in New York on Saturday night.