Rumors swirl on Brown firing
BY FRANK ISOLA
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Isiah Thomas' protracted wait for Larry Brown may prove to be Thomas' smartest play yet as Knicks' president. In recent days, various reports have surfaced that Pistons owner Bill Davidson will fire Brown and it sounds as if Brown is daring Detroit to do just that. The Knicks, according to a league source, are more optimistic than ever they will have a real chance of hiring Brown as their coach.
"The things going on in Detroit are legitimate," the source said. "It sounds like Davidson wants to fire him."
It had been rumored for weeks that the Pistons would look to remove Brown and replace him with Flip Saunders. Sports Illustrated reported on its Web site that Brown will be fired. Brown continues to say that he wants to return to the Pistons, but he has yet to inform the team if he'll be healthy enough to coach an entire season. Brown missed 17 games in 2004-05 because of hip surgery and subsequent bladder problems.
"I'm planning to be there on Oct. 3 (the opening of training camp)," Brown told The Detroit News. "My dilemma is, I can't tell them 100% I'll be ready because the doctors don't know and I don't know. But if the Pistons can't wait, let me know, don't put this stuff out there. I mean, what would you do if you were me?"
There is no guarantee that Brown will join the Knicks if he leaves the Pistons. His health concerns could keep him sidelined next season or force him to retire. There is also the possibility of Brown becoming president of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Brown met with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert about that position during the playoffs. Cleveland eventually hired Danny Ferry as GM but hasn't ruled out making a deal with Brown.
The Pistons are upset that Brown's flirtations with Cleveland became public during the playoffs and they want to be certain that Brown will be available for most, if not all, of the 82-game season.
"If I was them, and they really valued me to be their coach, I'd say, 'Take as long as you can to get well and we'll figure it out,'" Brown told the newspaper. "That's what they'd do if it was a player. That's what other teams have done for coaches with health or personal issues - Jerry Sloan at Utah, Rudy Tomjanovich at Houston, Don Nelson at Dallas. This is not a made-up thing. I have a health problem."