Despite leading his team to the best record in the NBA for the past two season — with the help of his superstar, LeBron James — the Cleveland Cavaliers have officially fired Coach Mike Brown.
According to ESPN, the Cavs had until midnight Sunday night (May 23) to either pay Bown his full $4.5 million for next season, or fire him as head coach. They chose the latter.
The decision comes after LeBron and the Cavs failed to advance past the Eastern Conference semifinals, being defeated by the Boston Celtics in six games.
While Brown is definitely a big piece of puzzle that led to the Cavs’ success, the biggest piece, Lebron, has an uncertain future as well. He is eligible to opt our of his contract this summer, which would make him a free agent and open to offers from almost any team.
That decision will come on July 1st when free agency opens.
The Cavs had a 2-1 series lead over the Celtics before losing three straight, including the final two at home by a combined 50 points.
“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 Monday in a statement released by the team. “The expectations of this organization are very high and, although change always carries an element of risk, there are times when that risk must be taken in an attempt to break through to new, higher levels of accomplishment.
“This is one of those times.”
While Brown and James had a solid relationship for the most part, in the past, James complained about the team’s lack of offensive imagination, saying the Cavs should run more, reports ESPN. Their relationship faded a bit during the team’s short postseason.
According to ESPN, James and some of the team’s other veterans questioned Brown’s game plans in both the series against Chicago and Boston. LeBron even questioned why O’Neal only played 49 seconds in the fourth quarter of the Game 4 loss in Boston. And, in the opening round against the Bulls, James campaigned to get J.J. Hickson more playing time, creating an awkward stand-off between the coach and superstar.
Right now, the Cavs are in limbo.
The Cavs will have to search for a new coach not knowing if James will be back next season, and would have to go into the draft and free agency without a coach.