It's two sentences in bold in the last paragraph.
Pistons set to do Flip
When Brown exits, Saunders to enter
AUBURN HILLS - News and views on the coaching carousel and recent front-office maneuverings in the NBA:
Detroit. Once Larry Brown leaves to take over the Cleveland Cavs, this job will go to Flip Saunders. From what team sources say, the ex-Minnesota coach is the one and only candidate to replace Brown. The Pistons view Saunders as a young Chuck Daly. Nate McMillan's name has been floated for the job, but we hear the Sonics coach, a free agent, is not a serious contender.
As for Brown, it was not very original thinking on his part to blame the media for what he created during the East finals. He brought it all on himself. If the Pistons fall short of defending their title, this postseason in Detroit will be remembered for how Brown bailed out on his team.
Well, at least one of them.
We wouldn't want to shortchange him, but by our count, he has been holding down at least three jobs. He's been an unofficial consultant to the Philadelphia 76ers. He's the head coach of the Pistons. And he's the president of the Cavaliers. It must be a record.
Minnesota. Owner Glen Taylor heeded the advice of Kevin Garnett, who wanted no part of Spurs assistant P.J. Carlesimo. Gee, wonder where K.G. would have come to that conclusion? Perhaps a talk with Latrell Sprewell? In doing so, Taylor also went against the wishes of his VP, Kevin McHale. McHale lashed out at Garnett, in absentia, when he heard that Taylor had sided with his star player.
So what happens now? T-Wolves suits rate it a three-horse race. Taylor, a patient man, has not completely ruled out Carlesimo, who has to overcome some big obstacles, including the Sprewell incident. Carlesimo is seen in some quarters as aloof with players. Then there's Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who didn't exactly mind that his name was mentioned for the Cleveland and Orlando jobs. He's rebuffed Taylor's overtures, but is expected to be called again. And as a fallback candidate, ex-Minnesota coach Sidney Lowe is getting some consideration.
Cleveland. LeBron James didn't exactly have a great time in Athens playing for Larry Brown last summer. Even though he was one of the most dominant players in practices for the U.S., James couldn't get any playing time. So how did King James come to accept the fact that Brown is going to head up the Cavs? A member of LeBron's "kitchen cabinet" and a friend to such players as Allen Iverson and Richard Hamilton, Wes Wesley, is a frequent visitor to Pistons practices and games. Spies say he worked as the go-between, although Wesley isn't taking any credit.
Brown's main personnel man in Cleveland will be Milt Newton, who played for Brown at Kansas and has worked for the Washington Wizards and the NBA's developmental league.
"Larry is very much his mentor," said one of Newton's business associates. "It will be interesting to see how Milt stands up to Larry when it comes to personnel issues. Larry will listen to Milt." During this whole Larry Brown-to-Cleveland story, the one thing that's been lost is how Brown will do when he's in charge of a roster. "It could be a disaster," said one Western Conference executive. "He usually wants to trade everybody who's not on the injured list."
Shaq's big heart
Shaquille O'Neal scored a lot of points with the older crowd when he offered to pay for George Mikan's funeral. The NBA's first dominant big man died Thursday at the age of 80, following a long fight with diabetes and kidney ailments.
Mikan's family accepted Shaq's offer.
"That was a tremendous gesture on Shaq's part," said Andrew Stevens of the NBA Retired Players Association. "He and George were friends because of their Laker ties."
Mikan was one of many players from the old days who had been trying to get the league to improve its pension for the "pre-'65" players. Those players played before 1965 and had no pension before the league and union decided in 1988 to include them in pension plans.
To be eligible, pre-'65ers need to have five years of service. They receive approximately $200 per month for every year. Mikan received $1,700 a month and had to sell off his awards and memorabilia to help pay his medical costs. He was bed-ridden in his final years after having one of his legs amputated. By comparison, players since 1965 qualify after only three seasons and get about $350 per month for every year of service.
Although the pension plans have come up in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, chances of an increase for the pre-'65ers don't look good. Maybe Shaq's gesture will serve to get the old-timers what they deserve.
Once, talking about how today's players had finally learned of the first generation of NBA players from the late 1940s, Mikan said: "They're starting to realize that they wouldn't be there today if it were not for us. I felt like we were in the covered wagons that went across the United States."
Well, now what do the Suns do? They may have won 62 games, but as we saw in their series against the Spurs, they need to import another interior big man who can rebound and bring some toughness. Even more importantly, they need to play more defense. "In the regular season it's okay to play that 'first-team-to-120 wins' system they use," said Detroit's Chauncey Billups. "Most teams can't beat a team like that in the regular season. But it comes down to getting stops in the playoffs."
Charlotte is trying hard to move up in the draft and land North Carolina frosh Marvin Williams. The Hornets are offering their two No. 1's (5 and 13). But Atlanta is still expected to pick Williams at No. 2.
Who ratted out George Karl? Denver's coach was suspended for the first three games of next season for violating rules prohibiting contact between teams and players not eligible for the draft. The incident took place at Marquette in May. The Nuggets also were fined $200,000.
In case you're losing sleep over it, Phil Jackson's big meeting with Kobe Bryant has not been held. Bryant is vacationing in Europe these days. ... Portland's coaching search continues and now includes Seattle associate head coach Dwane Casey and Phoenix's Mark Iavaroni. ... Michael Curry is president of the Players Association, but that won't last too much longer. He's heading to Rick Carlisle's bench, which is down one assistant with the loss of Mike Brown to the Cavaliers. ... No surprise that the owners rejected the players' proposal to extend the current labor deal. David Stern has said for weeks that there has to be rollbacks to the current deal, which expires June 30. "Talks are stalled for the moment," said union chief Billy Hunter.
Originally published on June 4, 2005