At roughly this time last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers were in almost an identical position as they currently find themselves. That is, coming off a disappointing season that showed little of the development they were hoping for, a young “star” point guard who had yet to fully show that he was capable of leading a team, a first overall draft pick to decide upon, and a coaching vacancy to fill.
I guess the old adage is true: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Historians believe that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it, and the hope in Cleveland is simply that. Looking back it seems as if every decision that was made last summer has blown up in the franchise’s face.
Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick? A shoulder injury, asthma and a sleep apnea diagnosis, and one of the most underwhelming rookie seasons ever.
Signing Jarrett Jack in order to add stability to a young backcourt? He failed to match his career season from the year before and his numbers went down across the board.
Andrew Bynum? Too many problems to list …
And despite all of these decisions that look poor just a year later, one other choice stands out above the rest … the re-hiring of Mike Brown as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bennett can still develop as a young player with lots of potential, Jarrett Jack can rebound from a rather disastrous first season in Cleveland, and Andrew Bynum … well … he was sent packing long ago.
But Mike Brown will continue to cost the Cleveland Cavaliers for years to come, and the hope for Cavalier fans everywhere is that he won’t cost the team anymore than the $16 million that is still owed to him. It took Mike Brown less than one year to make Kyrie Irving look as if he had lost his love of the game, have turmoil throughout his locker room, and to have rumors surface that a respectful veteran such as Luol Deng was calling the culture of the team “messy.” All of this in less than a year on the job.
Since announcing that Mike Brown was relieved of his position as coach, reports have surfaced of the Cavaliers’ interest in many different coaches, from experienced coaches such as George Karl, Alvin Gentry, and Vinny Del Negro (note: Del Negro should not be used in the same sentence as coaches like Karl and Gentry … but here we are), to a high level assistant such as Adrian Griffin.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! has also reported that the Cavaliers are also “aggressively mining the college ranks in their coaching search.” And a statement like this automatically brings up pictures of John Calipari, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, Mike Krzyzewski, or Kevin Ollie patrolling the sidelines … all of whom are likely to stay at their current positions.
So what do all of these coaches have in common? And what does it say about the direction of the franchise? Unfortunately, the answer to both of these questions appears to be “very little.” Their search grid covers the experienced and the inexperienced; the young and the old; the offensively minded and the defensively focused. There is simply no pattern to be found.
And whoever it ends up being, if the incoming head coach fails to build a positive relationship with Kyrie Irving and make basketball fun for him again, the fan base can look back to April 2013 and the hiring of Mike Brown as a day that changed the course of the franchise for the worse.