Right now fans are pissed at Mike Brown. Go read the message boards at RealCavsFans.com or some of the posts at YaySports!, Cavs fans are fed up. They want the guy gone.
And it's not just the fans; Bill Livingston wrote a column comparing Mike Brown to current Browns lame duck Romeo Crennel:
(Couple things: 1) Bill Livingston is not as clever as he thinks is 2) Bill Livingston hates Braylon Edwards.)
No telling what's been ignored the most around town, but the contenders seem to be the coach of the Browns, that of the Cavaliers and the no-smoking ban in restaurants.
The Cavs, without the Browns' injury excuse, have been a very disappointing team in the NBA. Lack of effort has been their calling card, inconsistency their competitive characteristic, and tomorrow their empty promise.
After wasting a good start on their West Coast trip, in which they lost to three straight struggling teams (Seattle, Portland and Denver) and barely exerted themselves vs. the latter two, you wanted to look around for Braylon Edwards, blowing off some coach or teammate. Seldom has a team been called out by its coach for such indifference, as the Cavs were in Portland, and then played -- in the very next game! -- as if the coach were speaking Esperanto.
Both Mike Brown and Romeo Crennel are likable guys, but their players perform at times as if there's no penalty for passivity. In fact, Brown, saying the Cavs are still at the "learning stage" and Crennel, talking about "mentoring" players, both come off as teachers targeted for spitballs by their pupils.
The last time so many men in so many stages of undress stood around as long as the Cavs do on offense might have been male models in Calvin Klein photo shoots.
Brown has played James, after a long summer at the World Championships in Japan, more minutes as of Friday's official statistics, than anyone except Allen Iverson. No wonder the fourth quarter sometimes finds LeBron playing like (simile deleted).
Brown seeks a "partnership" with James, much as between coach Gregg Popovich and Spurs star Tim Duncan. Yet when James was asked by what date the Cavs needed to step up their play, he said, "Middle of February, early March."
That's Valentine's Day at the earliest. And no kisses for the fans.
Plus, local radio host Kenny Roda has taken to calling Mike Brown "Cavalier head coach-at-the-moment Mike Brown" and has been ragging on coach Mike for awhile now.
They are one of several underachieving Eastern Conference teams. The Washington Wizards lead the East at 26-17; the Cavs are No. 5 at 25-19. They are two wins from the top, five losses from being out of the playoff picture.
It has been frustrating, but it's also ridiculous to insist that the season can be kicked into a higher gear by firing Brown.
No interim fix
Somehow, some way, fans have to learn this lesson: Interim coaches do not work.
When Cavs owner Dan Gilbert fired Paul Silas with 18 games left two seasons ago, turning the team over to Brendan Malone, it didn't work. I poured through more than 20 years of NBA records, searching for interim coaches who became a success.
I found two: Lawrence Frank with the New Jersey Nets and Rudy Tomjanovich with the Houston Rockets.
George Karl (Denver Nuggets) and Scott Skiles (Chicago Bulls) had positive impacts when they took over teams at midseason, but they were given long-term contracts, so the players knew they were in charge. They also had extensive head-coaching experience.
Teams have a hard time finding coaches to take over a team in the offseason. Most of the big names available are aging and glad to be broadcasting: Doug Collins, Hubie Brown, Matt Goukas and, yes, Silas.
I have issues with Brown. It was apparent the team was offensively challenged last season with two basic plays: a high pick-and-roll and a side pick-and-roll. Most of the time, it was throw the ball to LeBron James and watch him do something.
Brown talks about wanting to get out on the fast break, but he either hasn't coached it well or he doesn't have the players to run it. I lean toward the coaching argument, because seldom do you see the Cavs actually throw the ball 40 feet up the court on the break. It's dribble, dribble, dribble.
This year, his offense has more movement but little focus. It seems Brown still can't consistently find ways to get the ball inside to center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. James is not pleased with the offense, either.
Those are no minor concerns.
You see that there? That's called logic. That's why I love Pluto's writing. You want to fire Brown? Alright, who are you hiring? You know that interim coaches don't work right? He recognizes things aren't where they should be, but taking some bold move to ax the coach is the wrong move.
Just like how the Cavs came back from 17 points behind at halftime to win Friday at the Philadelphia 76ers without James. Doesn't that say something good about Brown?
He is savvy enough to let the players take credit for the victories, while accepting criticism for the shortcomings with little complaint. The Cavs also are a team with no real player rebellions, major legal problems or signs of a clubhouse out of control. That is the NBA, and several franchises seem to stagger from crisis to crisis with players openly disrespecting the coach.
The point is: Like a young player with some promise, Brown is a young coach with potential. Don't debate the idea of who should have been hired in the summer of 2005. Living in the rear-view mirror of history and playing the what-if game is a favorite among fans and media types, but it is utterly irrelevant.
No time for change
Brown is the coach and should remain the coach for the rest of the season. If he can't see that the team plays with more zip when rookie Daniel Gibson is at the point -- or that Eric Snow's game is slipping -- then he should be held accountable for that at the end of the season.
We're all aware that this team has struggles and the coach has and will take responsibility for that, but firing guy now does no one any favors. Sure, it'll placate the message boards and Kenny Roda may calm down for a week. But unless the Cavs have a guy already waiting, a Rick Adelman or a Larry Brown, firing Brown for a Brendan Malone is pointless.
To often us Cleveland fans (and sports fans in general) are too quick to freak out; we can see problems but have no long term answers. Sure we can point out that Eric Snow sucks and Larry Hughes is disappointing, but do we really have any solutions? We can scream "Danny Ferry needs to make a trade" but we don't seem to realize that he doesn't have a lot of movable parts.
So ya, firing Brown may seem like a good idea, but really, is it? Do we really want Kenny Natt finishing out the season? I don't think so.