If the Detroit Pistons make their third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals next season, it appears Larry Brown will not be the coach. Several news services reported yesterday that Brown won't return to the Pistons next season.
Joe Dumars, the Pistons' president of basketball operations, told the Associated Press: "We have not agreed to anything with Larry and there is no buyout yet. Both sides are still talking."
Brown, who has three years and $18 million remaining on his contract, and the Pistons appeared headed toward a separation for most of the past season, which ended with the Pistons losing in seven games to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Pistons owner Bill Davidson and Dumars met with Brown and his agent, Joe Glass, last week to determine his future with the organization.
Brown told the Associated Press on Thursday that he was "confident" that he would return to the Pistons. Dumars and Glass spoke again yesterday.
"We have nothing new to report," said Matt Dobek, the Pistons' vice president of public relations. "Nothing has changed."
Davidson reportedly was upset by Brown's flirtation with the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers during the season. Brown was rumored to be headed to the Cavaliers as team president while the Pistons were battling the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. After indicating that wasn't true, Brown later admitted to having discussions with the Cavaliers for a non-coaching position but added that his desire was to return to the Pistons.
Brown, 64, had surgery on his hip during the regular season and developed bladder troubles later in the season. He visited the Mayo Clinic following the season and has spent most of the summer at his vacation home in the Hamptons. Brown claimed that only his health would prohibit him from being able to coach next season.
Unless Brown's buyout with the Pistons includes a clause that prohibits him from joining another team, the New York Knicks are expected to pounce on the nomadic coach. The Knicks have yet to make a decision regarding Herb Williams, who finished last season as the team's interim coach.
Brown has been with many teams in his Hall of Fame career, which has taken him through the ABA (Carolina Cougars, Denver Nuggets), NCAA (UCLA and Kansas) and NBA (Denver, New Jersey Nets, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit). He has a history of taking on reclamation projects, leading moribund franchises such as the Clippers to the playoffs, but he arrived in a ready-made situation in Detroit in June 2003. He led the Pistons to a 108-56 regular season record and two appearances in the Finals.
Brown had spent the previous six seasons in Philadelphia -- his longest tenure with any team -- and he led the 76ers to the NBA Finals in 2001.
Brown is the only coach in history to win championships in both the NCAA and the NBA. He led Kansas to a national title in 1988 and guided the Pistons to a championship in his first season with the team. He led the U.S. Olympic basketball team to a bronze medal in Athens last year.
Former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders, who turned down a lucrative contract offer from Milwaukee and resisted overtures from other organizations, has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Brown.
Wizards Notes: A source close to free agent guard Juan Dixon said that Dixon is planning to meet with the Portland Trail Blazers this week. Dixon also has been contacted by Miami and Indiana. . . . Miami also has been in contact with restricted free agent guard Steve Blake. The Wizards would have the right to match any offer made to Blake, who was the backup point guard to Gilbert Arenas for each of the last two seasons. However, that role is expected to be filled by Chucky Atkins, who was acquired in the trade that sent Kwame Brown and Laron Profit to the Lakers in exchange for Atkins and Caron Butler.
Staff writer Ivan Carter contributed to this report.