Mike Brown is back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but his second tour brings a whole new set of roster challenges.
Brown, who earned almost $5 million from the Los Angeles Lakers after he was fired five games into the 2012-13 season, was fired by the Cavaliers three years ago. He returns to coach a very young team, led by point guard Kyrie Irving, after leaning on LeBron James through his first stint with the franchise.
"I am more than excited about Mike Brown's return to the Cleveland Cavaliers," said owner Dan Gilbert. "Mike has done nothing but win in this league since he was a first-year assistant many years ago. He is going to instill a much-needed defensive-first philosophy in our young and talented team that is going to serve as our foundation and identity as we continue down the path of building the kind of franchise that competes at a championship level for many years to come."
Brown's contract is reportedly worth $25 million over five years. It will be primarily the responsibility of general manager Chris Grant to add talent around Irving. Speculation could heighten that James might consider a return to Cleveland next summer, when an option in his contract gives James the ability to enter free agency.
Short of that improbable development, the Cavaliers are likely to remain focused on building through the draft. The draft lottery is held May 21, and the Cavaliers will have the third-best chance at the top overall pick.
Brown, 43, came to Cleveland in 2005 -- his first head coaching job -- and guided the Cavaliers to the 2007 NBA Finals. He was named NBA Coach of the Year for leading the team to a league-best 66 wins in 2009. His team lost to the Orlando Magic in the 2009 conference finals and the Boston Celtics in the 2010 conference semifinals, leading to his dismissal.
"Mike is an excellent head coach and a proven winner. He has a deep understanding of what it takes to succeed as a team and that will be integral to helping us reach our full potential," said Grant. "We are fortunate to have Mike back and I look forward to him leading our team to a very successful future."
Brown succeeded Phil Jackson as the head coach of the Lakers in 2011 but was fired early in the 2012-13 season and replaced by Mike D'Antoni.