The Bobcats just posted a press release announcing that Larry Brown will no longer coach the team. Parsing the language of the release, it's being framed as a decision made by Michael Jordan and front office management to change direction more than it is Brown's choice to step away.
There is no successor in place, but anyone who's hired or promoted will almost certainly be an interim coach so that the new leader can start fresh next season. There are reports the rest of the staff has been let go, too.
We've covered Brown's tenure in Charlotte from the beginning. In recent days, we judged him stale, out of touch, and stubborn to the point of inanity. A major flash point for us was signing Dominic McGuire before this season, a player who has never amounted to more than a decent bench option, but who was exalted by Brown and got far more playing time than Tyrus Thomas, who'd been signed to a lucrative extension in the off season.
Everything spiraled out of control this season, but we shouldn't be surprised that he was dissatisfied and anxious about the players he was given to work with because this is what Larry Brown does. He spent four seasons with the Indiana Pacers, under five seasons with the Denver Nuggets, and six seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, and those were his long-term gigs. Two and a half seasons is about right.
But it's also worth remembering that what Larry Brown does is turn around struggling franchises quickly, and he did it in Charlotte, taking one of the worst-run teams in the league, turning over the roster, and creating a structure within which the talent could thrive. His signature moves were signing off on the Boris Diaw-Raja Bell trade, and then the Stephen Jackson trade.
The first move was a clear signal that the Cats would be doing business differently. They wouldn't rely on Richardson's brand of dunking and threes, and they wouldn't wait around for Jared Dudley to show what kind of player he could be. The second move showed the Cats were aiming for the playoffs, but more important, pounded home the point that Brown was willing to work with castoffs and turn other teams' garbage into gold. Picking up Thomas later in the season was a continuation of that process.
It all came together in 2009-10, when Brown had five guys he trusted to start, and two guys he trusted to come off the bench, and Jackson and Gerald Wallace played 45 minutes per game (it seemed). They all defended hard. They all attacked the rim, and they made the playoffs by wringing every last drop of production out of Wallace, Jackson, and Raymond Felton, younger players' development be damned.
This season, no one should have expected a repeat performance, and we were hoping at least some playing time would be apportioned to second-year players so we could find out their capabilities rather than overpay for veterans in a neverending expensive cycle. But storm clouds started gathering when the Cats let Felton go and traded defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler without receiving back a starting-caliber center, and Brown lobbied for any kind of veteran point guard other than D.J. Augustin, whose defense is terrible, but who has the potential to be a solid offensive player.
All that's to say, we're not surprised Brown didn't last the season because, eventually, enough people had to realize rebuilding was the franchise's best course of action, and Brown wouldn't stand to tear down and start over what he'd already "built up".
So, now the speculation begins. Adrian Wojnarowski has tweeted Paul Silas, Patrick Ewing, and Mike Woodson are candidates, but we'll hear a lot more names in coming days.
What will you remember about Larry Brown's time in Charlotte?