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Archive for Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Brown, Pistons will go their separate ways

July 20, 2005

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— Larry Brown is out as coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Brown and the Pistons reached a settlement Tuesday on the final three years of his contract, Pistons spokesman Matt Dobek said. He now is free to coach another team next season, said Dobek, who declined to provide further details.

Asked if the team had fired Brown, Dobek replied: "Say what you want."

The team didn't want the Hall of Fame coach back and had offered a payoff, Brown's agent, Joe Glass, said Tuesday.

"I take umbrage with the Pistons, or sources, saying it's a buyout," Glass said Tuesday morning before the announcement. "A buyout encompasses a mutual agreement, and that's not what is happening. Larry Brown is saying, 'I want to coach the Pistons,' and they want to pay him off for whatever reason."

Before the Pistons said that they were negotiating a buyout Monday, they had said they would welcome Brown back if he was willing to return.

"Until this week, I can't remember a time that I read Joe Dumars not categorically state that Larry Brown is our coach," Glass said. "The Pistons can try to change the facts, but you can't change history.

"When did this all break down? My best guess is months ago."

After the announcement, messages seeking comment were left with Brown, Glass, team president of basketball operations Joe Dumars, and Pistons players Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups.

In a statement, Dumars said "the search for a new Pistons' head coach has already begun." Brown is expected to be replaced by former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders.

Two years ago, Detroit signed Brown to a five-year contract worth about $25 million, plus incentive bonuses. He guided the Pistons to the NBA championship in 2004 and came one victory away from repeating this year.

Throughout the season, Brown insisted he would return if doctors deemed him healthy enough, and said he wouldn't lead another NBA team from the sideline. Still, there have been reports the New York Knicks would not hire a new coach until they knew for sure Brown was unavailable.

The 64-year-old Brown was hospitalized for treatment of a medical problem that developed from complications following hip surgery in November and persisted after a second procedure in March. He checked into the Mayo Clinic the morning after last month's NBA draft, less than a week after Detroit lost Game 7 of the finals to the San Antonio Spurs.

"His medical condition isn't 100 percent and it hasn't improved much," Glass said. "But we're trusting God that it will, and Larry has represented that he is physically, spiritually and emotionally able to coach.

"I do not want myself or Larry to sound vindictive because this is a free country, but at the same token, facts are facts. Some are saying Larry is using his health as an excuse, but that's not the truth because he's more than willing to come back, even with his current condition."

Brown and Glass met with Dumars and Pistons owner Bill Davidson last week. Other than traveling to suburban Detroit for the meeting, Brown has been resting, on doctor's orders, at his vacation home in New York.

During the regular season, reports linked Brown to jobs in New York, Los Angeles and Denver.

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