IS LARRY BROWN GROOMING TOM IZZO TO REPLACE HIM?
Many of us have come to the conclusion that Larry Brown won't coach the Pistons next season. That decision was made a long time ago -- even before the brawl at The Palace and Brown's latest surgery.
So who replaces him? I'd put my money on Flip Saunders. But don't be surprised if Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo becomes the next Pistons coach and his buddy Tom Crean moves from Milwaukee to East Lansing.
Brown is down. He is tired, burned out and hurting. One of my league sources told me Brown talked about retirement during training camp. It is a story that has circulated with the old heads in the league for a while.
Even if Brown did not have health issues he would leave the game because of burn out.
The drain of coaching in the NBA is enough for a young man. It is more difficult for a man who is 64 and in constant pain. Brown is fragile enough that I do not want him coaching the Pistons next season.
He would be drained and unmotivated.
Free Press columnist Michael Rosenberg does present an interesting debate about Brown. The Rose Man is stressed over all of Brown's flirtations with other teams. He said people have been relatively calm over this. And he said the standards would be different and the outrage too loud to describe if Tayshaun Prince's representatives had talked to another team during the playoffs.
He is right.
However, Brown cannot help it if people contact his representatives. It is something that happens quite frequently in the NBA. Teams secretly call coaches or GM's to see if they are happy and if they might be interested in trying something new should things not work out with their old team.
Everybody knows Brown is about to jet town. The Cavs know he won't coach next season. But what about having Brown in the front office should he decide he wants to coach the following season? The Cavs would have their man right under their noses.
Ninety percent of these secret conversations never become public. The problem with Brown is he built a network of media owls in New York, Philadelphia and Boston who have watched over him and leaked things that might benefit him.
These guys know every time Brown sneezes and they leak information he does not want to become public.
His best plan of action for the next 12 months is to do nothing. He should call Cleveland and say "thanks but no thanks" to the general manager's job. He should tell Pistons President Joe Dumars that he needs time away from the game as soon as the playoffs are over.
All the things we've read in the paper the past few weeks are nothing new for Dumars. Mentally he has juggled a list of possible replacements for much of the season.
That brings us to Izzo. He recently talked to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Grand Rapids about becoming head coach of that franchise. He won't take that job.
I am convinced Izzo is on the Pistons or bust campaign. Izzo and Brown have formed a bond the past two years. They've met several times in the Pistons practice facility and Izzo has sat in on a few practices and coaches meetings.
It is almost as if Brown is grooming him for the job, telling him how to handle practice and players, how to deal with league officials and the media. My guess is Brown is Izzo's Yoda. He is laying the ground work for Izzo to join the NBA fraternity if he so chooses.
We know Pistons owner Bill Davidson loves Izzo. That is enough to get him the job even if Dumars objects.
Stay tuned. Something strange is about to happen.
(You can email me at Fosternews@aol.com. My voice mail is 313-222-1494