Monday, July 13th, 2009 at 9:00 am  |  59 responses

2009-’10: Mike Brown’s Toughest Season

by Marcel Mutoni

Funny how this business works: Mike Brown coached his team to a franchise record 66 wins last year, nabbed the Coach of the Year award, and fell a couple of wins short of the championship round. And next season, if things do go exactly according to plan, he might be looking for work.

Brown, at least publicly, says he’s perfectly fine with this insane scenario. The Plain Dealer reports:

No NBA coach will be under a more unforgiving spotlight or facing more pressure than the Cavaliers’ Mike Brown next season…The Cavaliers had the third-highest payroll in the NBA last season, and paid nearly $14 million to the league in luxury tax. Brown is working in a championship-famished town for a hard-driving owner who is willing to spend whatever it takes to deliver the first NBA title in franchise history.

He knows that his job in Cleveland will be judged simply on this: Did the Cavs win a title with James? “We have a big challenge in front of us,” said [GM Danny Ferry]. “Mike’s focus is the same as that of the entire organization, all our goals and expectations should be high.”

And here you are wondering why Jeff Van Gundy’s face appears to be melting, even though he stopped coaching many moons ago.

Coaching on this level is a tough, stressful, and sometimes wholly unfair gig. Mike Brown is a few months away from discovering just true all of this is.

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  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    With all the trades and the good teams still improving, barring injuries, the ’09-’10 season could be one of the best in years. But have the Cavs done enough so far? I really like Parker in Cleveland, but the signing of Sideshow Andy…. not so much

  • http://adfji.com Jukai

    Not to disagree with anything said above, but Mike Brown may be the worst none-rookie coach int he NBA. Not even joking. He may be a great ‘practice’ coach (AKA he knows how to train and motivate his guys) but I have never seen a more lost, more inept in-game coach since… man, I mean, he makes PJ Carlisamo look like Red Auerbach!

  • rob stewart

    Mike Brown will be gone before the season ends

  • http://adfji.com Jukai

    Love the icon by the way, Mutoni.

  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/42594-Hoops4life- Overtime

    One of worst COY decisions ever

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    BAHAHAH!! That video of Coach Van Gundy was brilliant!
    PS – Really liking the new banner Mutoni. Noticed it the other day. Very stylish.

  • La Maravilla

    Mike ain’t shit with out LBJ so who cares what happen to him…. I do want to know if LBJ is gonna stay or he gonna play with his boy Jigga

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    I don’t think that Mike is going anywhere. The team is simply too good to NOT win 60+ games. They’ve been winning depsite him for a while now and I see no reason for that to change. He might get fired if they don’t win it all (or at least make it to the Finals) but there’s no way he’s getting the boot during the season. / Gerard, I was appaled by the Andy V signing at first. but it’s more like 42 than 50 mil. and the deal starts at a bit less than 7 mil. that’s fair market value for him, if they had gone lower charlotte would have snatched him.

  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    Z: you might be right, I’m just not a fan of Varejao at all. I think a guy like him should be a 6th man or something, but to me, he’s not a great defender, nor is he great on offense. Sure, he’s a hustle guy, but there are more hustle guys in this League, which they could’ve gotten for a lower price. At least that’s what I think.
    And Mike Brown…. well, the thing that has been really lacking with Cleveland is a good offensive system. Sure, you have LeBron, but too often it’s all LeBron and 4 guys looking on. That’s not a knock on LeBron James, but it’s an offense where nobody is moving. I think for an opposing team, they’re not that hard to figure out.

  • Marcel Mutoni

    g’morning. glad you guys like the new banner. incidentally, i had nothing to do with it; all props should go to the designers and ryne.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    I think Mike is in a no-win situaion. If they win a title this season and Lebron stays put, he’ll keep his job. Otherwise, his playoff resume will be what he’s judged on and if the Cavs fall short again, he’s gone with the wind. I mean….if you are going to have to restrucuture your franchise if Lebron bolts, what better way to enter in a new coach to the ranks of the deconstructed.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    The banner IS excellent.

  • zabba

    lebron will probably never win a chip in cleveland.

  • Prison Mike

    He was lucky to get the job in the first place.

  • http://adfji.com Jukai

    Z: That’s the problem, the team IS a fantastic 60+ win team, so to crap itself so terribly in the playoffs was inexcusable, and it pretty much revolved around Coach Brown sticking the same failed pseudo-zone defense and not running any offensive plays that didn’t revolve around Lebron. The Coach of the Year thing was a sham and I said it before and after– Mike Brown did NOTHING to deserve the award. One can argue he molded the team the way they are, and I can’t argue with that because I’m not at the practices– but I have never seen him have one moment as a good in-game coach. He should have gotten the boot much, much sooner.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Spaceship Jay

    You know this is oddly ironic; I was just playing NBA 2K9 with a friend of mine, and he was Orlando; I was the Cavs. He was simply destroying me with Rashard Lewis. Vareajo and Ben couldn’t do anything with the guy. I was down by about 23 going into the 4th quarter, and had decided to switch LeBron to the Power forward position, and I put Pavolic in at small foward. I came back to win by about 9. My friend was outraged, yelling; “HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!?!” My reply was simple. “BECAUSE I AM A BETTER COACH THAN MIKE BROWN. The End.

  • a_whiteman

    spaceship jay wins lol

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Did you see what Shaq did to the GM. He’ll have coach Brown twitching and stuttering incontrollably by Turkey day. The sooner they get rid of him the better. Now let’s talk about his replacement.

  • neaorin

    Spaceship Jay: to be fair, in 2K9 you get the “normal” Pavlovic – the one who most likely knows he is involved in a (virtual) playoff series. Mike Brown wasn’t so lucky.

  • breeze

    well @neaorin mike brown may havent been so lucky …but he never gave pavlovic a chance when you see you back court getting dismantled you say as a coach let me try something diffrent just to see how it works..maybe just maybe this 6/8 shooter that is struggling can atleast to the minumum but a hand in someone face so i dont have my best player gaurding rafer alston all night and i can put him on rashad lewis…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Spaceship Jay

    neaorin; Uhhhh I think Pavlovic knew he was involved. I also think that Mike Brown was interested in seeing how many times Turk could shoot over Mo and Delonte in one quarter.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    If you’re trying to win a chip with Mike Brown as your coach
    To him you have to approach and say “beat it”
    Just beat it, beat it

  • breeze

    the funny thing is people are saying hes a bad coach granted…but were your saying these same statments when he won the award when the surpassed 60 games like until orlando they sem invinceble…but as soon as the reach thier akillies heel…its everybody fault except lebrons …mo williams is wack…mike brown worst coach ever..he did over look pavlovic ..but hes not that bad …like this whole year is designed for them to beat orlando ..and with the trades im seeing new coach or old coach do they have a shot? my opinion no!

  • neaorin

    @breeze: so I guess you had better things to do than watch Games 2 and 3, because Pavs got his chance that series. Out of four halves of play, he had one good one, one so-so one and two _horrible_ ones. He almost blew Game 2 with his “defense” on Turk as well.

  • breeze

    but which is better ? having his woes with turk or having lebron on rafer who still had 24 and having varejo on lewis who hit two game winners…like come on …the choice he made with lebron was fool

  • Izzo

    Jukai:Mike Dunleavy is the worst non rookie coach.Possibly ever.

  • neaorin

    Well, after three games of going away from the regular rotation just to react to Orlando, he finally realized that they were just a horrible matchup and no matter what they did, Orlando had an answer for it. So he stopped trying stuff people were unfamiliar with and went with the rotation that won 66 games. And the Cavs came within a Delonte West near-rebound of winning Game 4 in regulation and tying the series 2-2.

  • neaorin

    As for who was better suited to guard Turk: that wasn’t the main issue. The BIG problem was Dwight picking whoever was guarding Turk and leaving him to work against slow-ass Z, and Turk making the correct decision 90% of the time. And of course, having nobody to guard Howard 1-on-1 under the basket. I’m sorry but on the list of reasons the Cavs lost to Orlando I’m having a hard time putting Mike Brown’s performance even in the top 3.

  • Gdub

    Is it to late for Paul Silas to make a return? My head hurts.

  • whooo!

    To me the GM has to be blamed for having what must be the worst collection of talent for the 3rd highest payroll. I mean, we all talk about how much better Kobe’s supporting cast is than Lebron’s, cuz it’s true! Lebron’s team included an overpaid Ben Wallace making $13 or $14mil (SOMEHOW the Wizards are the 5th highest payroll this coming season, so at least Cleveland won games).

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    As somebody else said, Mike Dunleavy makes Mike Brown look like Phil Jackson.

  • breeze

    @allen p correct ….and @neorin i mean i understand your views on how they were a bad matchup but didnt we know that during the seasons …people say season doesnt really count yes i agree to a certain extent as saying sometime when you lose by damn near 50 maybe thiers something wrong…and not only they will have orlando to worry about now..but have they beaten the healthy celtics yet no…mike browns hold some fualt.lebron holds fault for not speaking up to take a harder person on defense ..that rafer shyt aint cutting it…

  • Mykaveli21

    This bum pushes the ‘Panic Button’ everytime his team is in trouble and goes to LBJ too much down the stretch– GIVE LEBRON A REST!!! Make some adjustments! I see you run away and let your assistants draw up the plays! He doesnt coach– and now that Kuester is in Detroit he is gonna flop!

  • http://slamonline.com Brad Long

    How bout this. Mike Brown and Mike Dunleavy both suck. A lot.

  • http://slamonline.com Brad Long

    They should just make LeBron Player/Coach and get it over with.

  • Pancho

    I would dare to say that Mike brown is a good defensive coach, bringing to Cleveland that Spurs defensive swagger that includes clogging lanes, running for rotations and educate a few floppers. All things that are good for defense.
    But I agree, he is a terrible in-game coach. he made terrible decisions, that cost the cavs big games against the Magic.
    But its not his fault they lost against the Magic.
    They just got raped with a bad overall matchup.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    John Kuester should have won COY last year…he ran all the huddles during games and was the only reason that team had anything that resembled an offense.Brown is a good motivator, and until that last series against Orlando I thought he was a good defensive coach…guess not.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Cleveland’s match up problems with Orlando’s lanky perimeter players are way overrated. Orlando won because 1) Dwight was having a picnic down low 2) All of Cleveland’s shooters were below their regular season’s % in this series (Mo, West, Boobie, Wally, Sasha, Z… ALL OF THEM). It all begins and ends with the big dude for Orlando. He played like a superstar vs. Cleveland and like a journey man vs. Lakers.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    wayno, if Kuester was the one responsible of the offensive sets then he should have gotten a DEMOTION.

  • E.

    I agree with AllenP. Mike Dunleavy is by FAR the worst coach in the league.

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  • http://nbacheapseats.blogspot.com Chendaddy

    Mike Brown is NOT a good X’s and O’s coach. This is a man whose entire offensive playbook read, “Iso: LeBron James” before he got John Kuester as his offensive coordinator. Kuester was responsible for more of the 66 wins than Brown, the Mo Williams acquisition, or any perceived improvement in LeBron James’s game. Just like there was no way Doc Rivers could’ve coached the Celtics to a championship without Tom Thibodeau as his defensive coordinator, Brown is not taking the Cavs to the title with Kuester now the head coach in Detroit, unless Danny Ferry gets a comparable replacement. As for Brown’s substitutions, how exactly could he have done better? Z, Varejao, and Ben Wallace could barely defend Dwight Howard if all three were on the court together. Of course Dwight Howard looked like a superstar against them, and of course he looked more pedestrian against guys like Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum who could neutralize his athleticism. Then at the 3 and 4, the only person in the Cavs playoff rotation who could defend either Rashard or Hedo was LeBron. All those big shots that those two hit in crunch time were over Varejao or Delonte West. There was literally no one else in the rotation who could stop either one of them. The good news for the Cavs this year is that Anthony Parker/Danny Green, LeBron, Varejao, and Shaq match up a lot better against Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Brandon Bass/Ryan Anderson, and Dwight Howard. But the bad news is, without an offensive coordinator, Brown is back to running 70 plays of “Iso: LeBron James” per game on a team that rode LeBron into the ground last May.

  • E.

    Avery Johnson should just chill and wait to take Brown’s job.

  • http://nbacheapseats.blogspot.com Chendaddy

    I’m an idiot. Forget the X’s and O’s and substitutions stuff. I read this article right after the Marcin Gortat article, and I got confused between the comments about Mike Brown and those about Stan Van Gundy. But Brown is still going to be lost on offense without Kuester or a replacement.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Mike Brown seems like a decent, good-hearted person. I just don’t think he’s a good coach.

  • Rusty

    Mike brown will foreever be known as the coach who failed to win a ring with Lebron. In fact make that the whole cavs organisation..man they screwed up big.

  • Double-You Jay

    Seems like the Cavs are trying to plan for Orlando next year. Really? With KG back and ‘Sheed in Beantown I don’t see the Disney-soft-kid-friendly Dwight getting out of the east.

    Just because I know it’ll ignite some hate; the Cavs around LeBron right now are a lot like the Lakers were with Smush and the gang. Even the 1-on-5 offense. If your reason for losing in the playoffs is that Sasha Pavlovic didn’t show up (like you thought he would?) you aren’t winning a title. I don’t think being a stop on Shaq’s “Tarnishing My Legacy through Bad Soundbytes & Worse Trades” tour will be the answer, but it should be fun to watch.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    LMFAO @ Brad L. I was about to say that. LeBron as player-coach would ROCK.

  • http://www.broy7.com nate the great

    yeah. idc really.
    dont like the cavs. dont like lebron, and hated how mike brown won coy..

  • ab_40

    mike brown was the worst coach in those four confrence finals. and well he’s a defense guy a great assistant coach like tom thibodieu but not a head coach for a team on the brink of a championship. let’s see how it goes till christmas. I just don’t see this team winning anything, I love shaq’s game I love Lebron’s game but if you start a guy like delonte west and anderson varejo you’re not gonna win, you need an athletic wing to complement LeBron and well they don’t have that. they better hope detroit comes to it’s senses and goes in full rebuilding mode so they can get tayshaun

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  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com BETCATS

    if this team didnt have Lebron it would have won 35 games with Mike. If it didnt have Lebron and Mo, 15 wins is the max.

  • Vito

    funny how Mike Brown, as bad as he was, outcoached Flip Saunders during the 07 Conference Finals

  • ripriprip

    Coach of the Year, MVP, 6th man…they should all be given AFTER the playoffs. Look at Stan Van Gundy, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose…none of them won anything, but look at what they did in the postseason

  • http://kingakai.com Alpha-bet

    Mike Brown needs another assistant coach..who else is gonna call all the plays?..

  • Rusty

    Derrick Rose- Rookie of the year

  • Esco

    @ripriprip: Rajon Rondo deserved MVP over LeBron then by your logic??? Wow. Now I’ve heard everything.

  • http://www.web-backlinks.com/NBA/ NBA News Daily

    Don’t know about the Cav’s chances of winning it all the way in the 09/10 season. You think the old ‘Diesel’ still got it to make it happen??

  • nkscouting

    “No NBA coach will be under a more unforgiving spotlight or facing more pressure than the Cavaliers’ Mike Brown next season”?

    If that’s facing pressure, I’d like to face that kind of pressure, having LeBron James on my team!

    I’d rather be coaching them than the Clippers.

    How can anyone other than Cleveland fans expect them to beat the Lakers? They still don’t have as much talent as the Lakers!