The curse of the Coach of the Year award

DIME MAGAZINE noticed something very odd with the last few NBA COY winners

2005–06: Avery Johnson, Dallas Mavericks, 60–22 (Fired April 30, 2008)
2006–07: Sam Mitchell, Toronto Raptors, 47–35 (Fired December 3, 2008)
2007–08: Byron Scott, New Orleans Hornets, 56–26 (Fired November 12, 2009)
2008–09: Mike Brown, Cleveland Cavaliers, 66–16 (Fired May 24, 2010)
2009–10: Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder, 50–32 (???)

They were all fired within two years. The post goes on to speculate that the reason behind this trend is heightened expectations and I tend to agree. I’d go a step further, however. The award often goes to a coach who “got the most out of his team” (i.e. the team played “over their heads”). When this kind of outlier occurs, it’s far more likely that the team will return to the mean instead of continuing to develop into an NBA champion.

In other words, all it takes is one bad/mediocre season and the guy is a bum again. And with 30 teams vying for a championship, a bad/mediocre season is far more likely than a great one.

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Mike Brown fired

Per Brian Windhorst of…

In a move expected since the team lost three consecutive games to be upset by the Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals, the Cavs fired coach Mike Brown on Sunday according to a league source. The news was first reported by ESPN.

Okay, no shocker there. What was the reason for his dismissal?

Some Cavs’ players, including LeBron James, also seemed to lose patience with Brown after some of his adjustments and rotations didn’t work against the Celtics in the playoffs.

However, James is not believed to have made a personal push with management for a coaching change. He left it to the front office to make the final decision.

Brown seemed to struggle with his rotations after having to incorporate Shaquille O’Neal back into the team in the playoffs after O’Neal missed the final six weeks of the season. He started a lineup in the first game of the playoffs that he hadn’t used all season and the turbulence from multiple players changing roles appeared to upset the balance of the team.

Those problems plus, according to sources, some disagreement over some game plans for playoff games with some of the team leaders eventually led to some discord in the locker room during the Celtics series.

I put that bit about LeBron in bold because it may hold a clue to his future. If it’s true that he left Brown’s fate up to management, then it seems like he’s not all that interested in who’s coaching the Cavs, and that’s a bad sign for Cleveland fans that are hoping he re-signs.

Mike Brown will land on his feet. He bungled the playoff rotations, but that was partly because he had too many good players he had to play, especially when the Celtics started picking the Cavs apart.

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Cavs about to fire Mike Brown

Via Twitter, Sam Amico of says the Cavs are planning to let Brown and his entire staff go.

Official word of Mike Brown firing expected to be no later than Sunday, possibly as early as Friday. Entire staff expected to be let go.

This really shouldn’t shock anyone after the Cavs’ second-round exit. Brown is a very good defensive coach, but has always struggled to get the most out of his team on the offensive end of the floor. Most recently, he played with his rotations to the point where the 8, 9 and 10 guys didn’t know if they were coming or going.

The move clears the way for the Cavs to hire a new, presumably LeBron-approved, head coach sometime in the next few weeks.

By the way, Mike Brown was the 2009 Coach of the Year. Funny how things work.

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LeBron wants to guard Rondo

On the heels of Rajon Rondo’s 29-point, 18-rebound, 13-assist effort in Game 4, LeBron James has made it clear that he wants to cover Rondo in Game 5.

In fact, according to one courtside observer, James and Cleveland coach Mike Brown got into a heated discussion about whether James should cover Rondo at the critical moments of the fourth quarter. Brown ultimately decided against it, but that could change moving forward.

“I would love to,” James said after Rondo had eviscerated the Cavs with 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists. “It’s something we maybe should explore because Rondo is definitely dominating this series at the point guard position. For me, I don’t have a problem taking Rondo or guarding Rondo throughout the course of the game. If the coaching staff or the guys want me to do it, I will.”

The issue here is Mo Williams. He is not a good defender, and he can’t hang with Rondo. So the Cavs have Anthony Parker on the Celtics’ point guard and Williams on Ray Allen. If Mike Brown elects to put LeBron on Rondo, then he’ll have to put Parker on Paul Pierce, who has been very quiet in this series. Pierce is averaging just 12-3-3 on 32% shooting, likely due to the fact that LeBron has been up to the task defensively.

Pierce (6-7) has about an inch on Parker (6-6), but he probably has 20 lbs on him as well, which means he could get his game going in the post. The C’s need to be ready to use Pierce on the block if the Cavs elect to put LeBron on Rondo.

What’s amazing about Rondo is how productive he is despite his inaccuracy from 16+ feet. Of the 40 point guards who averaged 25+ minutes, Rondo has the fourth-lowest FG% from 16-23 feet. (By the way, the third-lowest clip belongs to Tyreke Evans, so it’s not unheard of to dominate play with a poor jumper.) Only Andre Miller and T.J. Ford are worse from 3PT range than Rondo.

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Mike Brown reacts to Mo Williams’ dunk [video]

Mo’s dunk in Game 1 against the Celtics was apparently the first of his career. After the game, Mike Brown was asked about it and could barely respond.

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