Mike Brown got a new contract today. Cavs never tell me the numbers, but I called some people and it sounds he's on his way to getting his pay doubled from a little over $2 million this year to more than $4 million during the extension, which gives him two more years to 2011. Bet he had a good weekend.
In general, I'm not in favor giving a coach a contract extension in the middle of the season. Last summer I mocked the Indians for signing Eric Wedge in the middle of the season and joked about a "mission accomplished" banner. Also, James Dolan was laughed at across the league when he extended Isiah Thomas' contract during last season. This deal should've been given last summer. But the Cavs didn't sign anyone over the summer, doing deals in the regular season has become, well, regular. So, I will move on about the timing. They told him last summer they were going to extend him and they've stuck to their promise.
I find myself feeling like I am defending Brown a lot to readers or on talk shows. People really focus on his shortcomings. He has them and they've been discussed here a great deal and they will be discussed more. I think part of the reason is that he doesn't command respect with his demeanor. In front of the cameras he's always hokey, pretends to know nothing and always tries to divert attention with jokes. It's an act, the man is usually well prepared and a very deep thinker. He also always takes the blame for things, never calling out a player or ever raising personnel issues. Remember the Paul Silas line: "Look, you can't make chicken salad with you know what." That earns him points in the organization but not with the fans.
The NBA is a bottom line business. Here are some bottom lines: Brown's got the best winning percentage in team history. He has the first back-to-back 50 win seasons in 14 years. He's got four playoff series wins in two years. He promised he'd make the Cavs a defense-based team and he has. Over the last year coaches like Sam Mitchell, Lawrence Frank and Eddie Jordan have gotten new deals and Brown has accomplished more than all of them. He was one of the lowest-paid coaches in the league, he had earned a raise. Sure, he's got LeBron James. Show me someone considered to be a good coach who didn't have great players.
The last Cavs coach who merited an extension was Mike Fratello, who never got the Cavs out of the first round of the playoffs. The Cavs haven't exactly had a great history to put Brown's accomplishments in great context but looking at the coaches the Cavs have had over the last decade what he's done deserves positive attention.