Archive for Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Are Brown’s days numbered?

Papers report Knicks owner Dolan considering buying out coach’s contract

May 16, 2006

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— Larry Brown may be on his way out of New York. Stephon Marbury doesn't care either way.

"Based on our record, that's normal for anybody to have that speculation," the Knicks' point guard said of reports that the coach may be booted following a 23-59 season.

Owner James Dolan is considering buying out Brown's contract, the New York Post and Daily News reported Sunday. His possible replacement: team president Isiah Thomas, according to the Post.

"I wouldn't mind, it doesn't matter who coaches," said Marbury, who feuded with Brown throughout the season. "I don't care if Larry Brown comes back. I wouldn't mind at all."

Thomas coached the Indiana Pacers for three seasons, reaching the playoffs each time, before he was fired.

"We have not commented on anything over the last two days," Barry Watkins, senior vice president of communications for Madison Square Garden, said Monday.

A message left for Brown's agent was not immediately returned.

Brown, a Brooklyn native, described his hiring last year as a "dream job," and the Knicks hoped his happy homecoming signaled a return to the playoffs. But despite a league-high payroll of more than $120 million, New York finished with the league's second-worst record, matching the most losses in franchise history.

Still, the Hall of Fame coach - who signed a five-year deal with the Knicks worth a reported $50 million - has said he believes he will return.

New York Knicks head coach Larry Brown reacts after a call by the official during the second half of NBA basketball action against the Los Angeles Clippers at New York's Madison Square Garden in this  Feb. 7, 2006 photo. Knicks owner James Dolan is considering buying out Brown's contract, the New York Post and Daily News reported Sunday, May 14, 2006. His possible replacement: team president Isiah Thomas, according to the Post.

New York Knicks head coach Larry Brown reacts after a call by the official during the second half of NBA basketball action against the Los Angeles Clippers at New York's Madison Square Garden in this Feb. 7, 2006 photo. Knicks owner James Dolan is considering buying out Brown's contract, the New York Post and Daily News reported Sunday, May 14, 2006. His possible replacement: team president Isiah Thomas, according to the Post.

"I meet with Mr. Dolan and Steve probably once a week," Brown said the day after the season ended. "I've never, ever gotten a feeling they don't want me to be a part of this. And they know how much I want to be here, especially in light of the fact that we won 23 games and I feel directly responsible for that."

He acknowledged that coaches without his resume probably wouldn't be safe with such a poor record, but Thomas indicated after the season ended that Brown would be back for another try.

"We haven't considered making a change because of his history. He may not want to hear this, but outside of Detroit and maybe Indy, he starts slow," he said.

"If you look at his history, he's a slow starter and then he picks up steam and all of a sudden players start doing what he wants them to do and GMs such as myself find a way to get him the things that he needs and he finds a way to win. And I believe that will be the case here."

If Brown does not return, it would be the second time in as many years that a team didn't want him back. He reached a buyout last summer with the Detroit Pistons - Brown maintains he was fired - even though he led the Pistons to the NBA Finals the last two seasons.

Brown endured a miserable season with the Knicks, squabbling with players through the media and missing three games in April because of illness. He had only one worse season as a coach, when he went 21-61 with the San Antonio Spurs in 1988-89.

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