Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Isiah Replaces Larry Brown

As predicted, the Knicks have fired Larry Brown and team President Isiah Thomas has replaced him as head coach, prompting the obvious question: does Thomas have pictures of Knicks owner James Dolan in bed with an underage sheep? It’s the only explanation, really. Of course, one could say the same thing about the fact that Thomas was hired in the first place given his track record, and the fact that he still has his job in the front office after an unprecedented 3-year run of uninterrupted stupidity. As great a player as Thomas was, this guy hasn’t shown he could run a successful chinese fire drill, much less an NBA franchise.

In three years he’s taken a team full of mismatched, overhyped, lazy players with ridiculously long and lucrative contracts that put the team $40 million over the salary cap while still losing 50 games a year, and he’s managed to turn them into a team full of mismatched, overhyped, lazy players with ridiculous long and lucrative contracts that put the team $80 million over the salary cap while losing 60 games a year. Half of me is laughing about this just because having to coach this group of ballhogs and overpaid slackers is like punishment for putting it together. And I have a hard time feeling sorry for Larry Brown, one of the most annoying and self-absorbed figures in all of sports. But mostly I’m laughing because next year we’ll get to watch Thomas show that he’s as bad a coach as he is a general manager. I’m already stocking up on popcorn.

Comments

  1. #1 Matthew
    June 22, 2006

    Michael Jordan just bought into the Charlotte Bobcats and has been put in charge of the basketball aspect. We might not see Brown unemployed for long (not that there aren’t other teams who would love to have him too).

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    June 22, 2006

    I actually think Brown would be a good coach for the Bobcats. Bernie Bickerstaff has done a great job of putting together a team of young but coachable players in Charlotte. There isn’t a single player on that team that doesn’t have a great attitude. They’ve got a terrific young point guard in Ray Felton, a Carolina system guy who is Brown’s kind of pure point guard, with speed to burn and not a big desire to shoot. You think Brown wouldn’t trade 50 Starbury’s for a guy like Felton to lead his team? They’ve got Emeka Okafor, one of the better young big men in the league. They’ve got Sean May to play beside him. I think that team has the potential to improve dramatically over the next couple years if they draft well and continue to pick up solid veterans in free agency as role players. They’ve got the #3 pick in the draft and either Adam Morrison or Brandon Roy would fit in perfectly at the 2 or 3; either one would be their leading scorer within 2 years and open up things for the big men. If I’m Larry Brown, I’m jumping at the chance to coach that team. And it’s the kind of team he can improve dramatically because they’re coachable and they’ll happily take on the roles he wants them to play.

  3. #3 Matthew
    June 22, 2006

    I don’t know, really. In all honestly Marbury and Billups aren’t that much different of players. Only I guess the former has been babied his entire career and doesn’t know how to take criticism (and, worse, doesn’t think any criticism of himself is valid). Gerald Wallace is still the best player on that team, though, until someone proves otherwise. I wouldn’t take Morrison because I don’t see him playing the 2 and it’s tough to replace Wallace’s defense.

    Nevertheless, the team is too young to expect any real success. And Brown isn’t exactly the best type of coach to develop young talent. I think Charlotte would be ok for him just because the expectations aren’t very high to begin with. The NBA takes a while to turn around a team and they gave him only one year in NY.

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    June 22, 2006

    Matthew wrote:

    I don’t know, really. In all honestly Marbury and Billups aren’t that much different of players. Only I guess the former has been babied his entire career and doesn’t know how to take criticism (and, worse, doesn’t think any criticism of himself is valid).

    Oh, I think there’s a huge difference. Similar in size and skill, but totally different in temperament and coachability. Billups was a shooting guard converted into a point guard, while Marbury came up as a point guard but was too selfish to run a team for the best of the team. The difference between them is that Billups actually cares about doing what’s best for the team; Marbury cares only about Marbury. Billups will take over the scoring when he needs to, but he doesn’t care whether he scores 5 points or 25 as long as the team does well. Marbury cares only that his numbers look good and doesn’t give a damn whether that’s good for the team.

    Gerald Wallace is still the best player on that team, though, until someone proves otherwise. I wouldn’t take Morrison because I don’t see him playing the 2 and it’s tough to replace Wallace’s defense.

    I hadn’t really thought about Wallace, and you’re right about his defense. Of the two I mentioned, I’d take Brandon Roy before Morrison. He’s more of a natural 2 guard, which allows Wallace to stay at the three. A lineup of Knight/Felton at the point, Roy at the 2, Wallace at the 3, and some combination of May, Brezec and Okafor (he needs to stay healthy, of course) in the frontcourt is, in my view, a .500 team if they’re well coached and stay healthy. And they’re very young and coachable. It’s certainly true that Brown generally doesn’t like coaching young players, but that group is so coachable, and two of them already understand the Dean Smith system pretty well and can help the others catch on, that I think he could really help make that team better (and that’s from a guy who thinks Brown is pretty much a self-absorbed scumbag – but you can’t doubt that the guy knows how to coach).

  5. #5 chrisberez
    June 22, 2006

    Yeah, tonight on PTI the guys both agreed that Thomas deserved much more of the blame for the Knick’s failures than Brown. Hey, it’s all OK with me. I hate the Knicks, and if the front office wants to continue running the team into the crapper, more power to them. Plus, at least this “breaking news” was one thing to make me laugh during the crushing dissapointment of the U.S.’ loss to Ghana in today’s football match.

  6. #6 Matthew
    June 22, 2006

    I don’t know about Brandon Roy. I thought he was good in college, but the one thing about him is that his stock seems to have skyrocketed after the season ended. I’m always wary when that happens, when a guy goes from barely being talked about to being one of the top players in the draft. Of course, that’s pretty much what happened with Ike Diogu last year and he looks like he’s at least going to be a solid player. Basketball is the hardest sport to scout for because there is a drastic difference in the types of players who are successful in college and the NBA. Unlike football, which pretty much is the same type of game on both levels.

    But I’m still not sold on whether Larry Brown would be good for Charlotte. Remember that before this year, the only rookie he really ever played heavily was David Robinson; and he was 24 at the time. And I’m not sure if he’s going to automatically like Felton and May just because they are alumni. He also coached Jerry Stackhouse in Philadelphia and I believe was one of the reasons he got traded. Charlotte still has a pretty decent veteran point guard in Brevin Knight who’s been challenging Felton for the starting role as it is. Of course, he would still play these players some; he would have to. But would it be good for their development long term? Larry Brown isn’t a long term kind of guy.

    Even if we assume that these young players are all going to improve (and that doesn’t always happen), you’re still looking at a decent, though inexperienced, starting lineup but a really bad bench. I don’t think Brown has enough magic in him to pull that team to .500, but I guess Brown isn’t a guy who should be questioned.