Ever since the Lakers dismissed him in unceremonious fashion back in November, things have gone smoothly for the 2009 NBA Coach of the Year. He was never the right fit in Los Angeles, but he managed his tenure in Southern California with class and never burned any bridges.
That turned out to be a great play.
Brown banked $11 million of the remaining $18 million on his Lakers contract while enjoying the Southern California lifestyle. When the Cavs hired him, they assumed some of that remaining salary, although precisely how much is unclear. The bottom line is that it was indeed paid.
He also got the chance to watch his sons play high school basketball. Then, he somehow managed to get the Cleveland Cavaliers to seek his services once again in the wake of Byron Scott's firing. That's not a bad way to spend one's unemployment.
Brown enters a situation not unlike the one when he first joined the Cavs. He'll have the opportunity to work with a budding superstar and have much-coveted cap space as he takes to the sidelines for his second stint in Cleveland. Kyrie Irving is no LeBron James -- no one is. But he could be the NBA's next superstar. At the very least, he's a difference-maker worth building around.
And if that weren't enough of a good situation, Cleveland secured the No. 1 overall pick on Tuesday night by winning the draft lottery.
Despite a watered-down talent pool that's not top-heavy by any stretch, it's still an enviable position to be in, and there's potential for the Cavs to add an impact player right away with the pick or trade it away for more assets.
The world is Mike Brown's oyster, and he's got to be enjoying every minute of it. He's going to be close to his son, Elijah, as he prepares to play collegiately at Butler University in Indianapolis, a five-hour drive from Cleveland. Moreover, he's far away from the Lakers, who are in a dismal state of luxury tax purgatory and a clouded immediate future.
While Mitch Kupchak & Co. wait for Dwight Howard to make a decision on whether or not he wants to remain in Los Angeles or bolt for greener pastures, Brown's dealing with a situation that has more clarity than the one he left. No matter what Howard does, the Lakers still face system, coaching, personnel and injury issues concerning their franchise.
Cleveland has a plan, a coach and the resources to make it all work.
To put things in perspective, Cleveland's best three players in Irving, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Verejao will make just over $18 million combined in 2013-14. Kobe Bryant will make over $30 million by himself, and if Pau Gasol comes back, the Spaniard will make $19 million. That doesn't even factor in that Howard is likely to get a max offer sheet from the Lakers which would put them on the hook for another $23 million should he re-sign.
The Lakers' largest salaries will all come off the books prior to the 2014-15 season, potentially putting James in play should he opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat and test the waters again. But as the Howard saga has shown, L.A. may not be the desirable destination it once was during the Jerry Buss era. Who's to say he would choose L.A. over say, Cleveland? There are fewer guarantees than ever before in the new landscape of the NBA.
Brown's got a young squad that he can mold to fit his vision with plenty of space to add pieces as he sees fit. It's an ideal situation. Owner Dan Gilbert is likely to give him near-autonomy when it comes to personnel, and that makes any coach comfortable.
Yes, Mike Brown's living in Cleveland, and it's not Los Angeles or even Southern California. But from a basketball standpoint, it's easy to see that in less than 12 months, he's ended up in a better situation, and that's fascinating.
For more on the Lakers and the NBA, catch up with Michael C. Jones on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets
Michael C. Jones covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA as a Southern California-based sports journalist and editor. He contributes to SB Nation in addition to Yahoo! Sports and is the Managing Editor and Founder of Sports Out West.
(Contract Data via Spotrac.com)
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Southern California