Well, that was odd.
It's one thing to bring back a deposed coach for a second chance. The Memphis Grizzlies profited from such a move with Lionel Hollins. The Los Angeles Lakers certainly did with Phil Jackson. So the Cleveland Cavaliers bringing back Mike Brown hardly was a unique step.
But Brown's introductory media session? Now that was beyond unique.
Not because of Brown, a likable sort who certainly did well enough during his initial Cavaliers coaching tenure.
But because of the "Elephant in the Room."
Figuratively and literally.
In this case, the elephant wasn't in the room but rather on the mind.
"The elephant"? That would be LeBron James.
With Cavaliers officials unable to name names, due to tampering issues and other concerns, they instead were forced to deal in code when asked to link how Brown's hiring might impact efforts to bring James back to Cleveland during 2014 free agency, when James hits the first opt-out opening in his Heat contract.
So there was Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, asked point blank, about the "elephant in the room."
"About the elephant? I don't know how to answer that," said Gilbert, who had fired Brown in 2010 in advance of James' free agency, in an ill-fated bid to retain James. "We honestly talk about today, this year. A lot of stuff is in the media obviously. But we can't control that. And we understand why. Obviously it's in the media because that's of interest to people."
Including, of course, Cleveland people.
And yet during Brown's introductory session there never was a denial that a climb back to respectability under Brown wasn't necessarily a part of advance LeBron planning.
Again Gilbert, "In NBA terms there's so much that happens in a year. There's so many different variables that happen. You can't even speculate in the next 12 months what's going to happen or where we're going to be or where anybody else is going to be. You focus on right now."
Of course, no lottery team, at least one with eventual championship hopes, focuses on "right now." That is the worst approach. The Heat certainly never focused on "right now" as they fell to 15-67 in 2008 while amassing the cap space needed to re-sign Dwyane Wade and add Chris Bosh and James.
And then, later in the Brown's introductory session, the "elephant" returned.
"Dan," came a question, "are you saying the elephant in the room did not enter into your thinking at all in this hire?"
Gilbert, "This is such a different business. It's such a different business than any other business in the world for two reasons: Number one, in other businesses, there's so many more options of things you can do. And number two, you don't live in a fish bowl, where everybody's watching every move and debating every move.
Fine, so we'll debate. From those closest to LeBron, the sense is that Brown hardly enhances the chances of James returning to Cleveland. But what the re-hiring of Brown does is put the Cavaliers in a potentially better situation to entice the type of free agents who might therefore entice James.
Gilbert, of course, could have ended it all by saying, "This has nothing to do with adding any specific individual free agent." Except there's still hope in Cleveland, with no need to extinguish that hope.
Eventually, James' name itself was brought up during the media session, with a question about how Brown got LeBron to buy into his concepts.
Otherwise, vagueness and a prayer.
"There's also a ton of cap space available to us to exercise at the right time," Gilbert said.
So, yes, there yet could be some big-game hunting by the Cavaliers. But the addition of Brown, by itself, did little to move the targeted prey any closer to capture.
IN THE LANE
HERE'S WHY: There's been a lot of buzz about LeBron James potentially being a unanimous MVP selection, with the announcement of the winner now only days away. But after seeing some of the curious voting with some of the early awards, keep in mind that among the media members who are included in the balloting are broadcasters under direct contract to teams. That's not to say that those aren't also some of the most knowledgeable voters. But if your paycheck comes embossed with a team logo, would you want a unanimous vote that shows you didn't vote for, say, Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony or Chris Paul, if you were employed by one of those teams? It's a tough spot for the NBA, with a dwindling number of beat writers and independent broadcasters. But it also severely reduces the chances for any award to be unanimous, even with the votes being kept anonymous.
GOING, GONE: Yes, that is former Heat 2009 draft-night acquisition Patrick Beverley mucking up the Rockets-Thunder series as part of Houston's backcourt rotation. Enough of a prospect to receive two seasons' worth of pay from the Heat without actually ever playing for the Heat, the gritty guard eventually was released by the Heat on Oct. 5, 2010, with Eddie House and Carlos Arroyo instead retained in the backcourt. Beverly's rights essentially were obtained in a swap of second-rounders when the Heat flipped 2009 selection Marcus Thornton, who has gone on to have a productive NBA career, to New Orleans on draft night. Before latching on with the Rockets, Beverley thrived in Europe as a defensive specialist.
MAKES SENSE: Putting aside that his cousin is David Thompson, that he is from Shelby, N.C., or that he played at Appalachian State, former Heat coach Alvin Gentry makes perfect sense as the next coach of the Charlotte Bobcats. To a degree, Gentry is the anti-Mike Dunlap, personable with an easy-going nature, but also well aware of the differences between the approach of college and NBA coaches. Whether Gentry wants to go through another rebuilding process, which eventually wore him down before he was dismissed the past season with the Phoenix Suns, is another story.
WORTH WAITING: While former Heat guard Brian Shaw, now an Indiana Pacers assistant coach, has been linked to several coaching vacancies, patience might prove prudent. With Phil Jackson, Shaw's former bench boss with the Los Angeles Lakers, interested in possibly running a front office, it might behoove Shaw to see if Jackson winds up in a possible Seattle situation, or with the Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors or elsewhere. Jackson, who is not interested in also coaching, figures to have Shaw and Kurt Rambis on speed dial when it comes to his coaching choices.
ONE MORE TIME: Even in the postseason there is word of the preseason, with the Sprint Center announcing this past week that the Heat have been scheduled for an exhibition in Kansas City for the fifth time. This time the Mario Chalmers comeback tour will feature the Charlotte Bobcats as the opposition, on Oct. 11.
21. Times Ray Allen has made five or more 3-pointers in a playoff game, including Thursday for the Heat against the Bucks. Next closest, according to Elias Sports Bureau, was Reggie Miller with 13 such performances.
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