Cavaliers' firing of Mike Brown is more than meets the eye

By Tom Hardesty | Assistant Sports Editor Published:

You get the feeling that there is more to the firing of Mike Brown as Cleveland Cavaliers coach than meets the eye.

A lot more.

Sure, the Cavs staggered to a 33-49 record and missed the playoffs this past season, but nobody actually thought Brown could turn a Cavs roster with more holes than a block of Swiss cheese into title contenders in one season.

So common sense tells us that's not why Brown was shown the door so quickly.

One explanation, though, makes perfect sense.

As the 2013-14 season wore on, it became obvious that the Mike Brown-Kyrie Irving relationship just wasn't working out. And in the NBA, when a team's coach and franchise player don't get along, the coach is the one sent packing.

The conventional wisdom goes like this: You can always find a coach, but you can't always find a franchise player. Which tells you who really runs teams in the Association.

The Cavs tried to spin it that the firing of Brown after just one season had nothing to do with Irving, but that's extremely difficult to believe. The team never jelled, never had chemistry and mailed in far too many defeats -- many of them of the embarrassing variety -- for any coach to survive the chopping block.

But mix into that witch's brew of negativity the obvious discord between Brown and Irving, and you have the recipe for a coach's one-way ticket out of Cleveland.

So Brown went and Irving stayed.

At this point, the Cavaliers can't afford to lose the former Duke star for three reasons:

1. Irving is the face of the franchise and seems a sure bet to someday be the MVP of the league.

2. Without a franchise player -- especially a point guard with the ability and star power of Irving -- there is just no way to attract top free agents to join your team in the NBA's current structure.

3. Yes, I'm going to go there: The presence of Irving -- and the absence of Brown -- gives Cavs owner Dan Gilbert major leverage and a huge bargaining chip in possibly luring LeBron James back to Cleveland. This just wouldn't be possible if Brown was the coach and Irving was playing elsewhere.

And while many in Cavs Nation are still angry and bitter toward LeBron for taking his talents to South Beach, and then winning championships with the Heat, it doesn't take a genius basketball IQ to understand that a team featuring James and Irving is a team that is going to hoist the NBA championship trophy.

More than once.

Email: thardesty@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9446

Twitter: @TomHardestyRC

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