Adrian Wojnarowski reported on the Larry Brown situation earlier today, and it seems to me like there might be some weight to these rumors. The latest revolves around LB coming back to Philly as President of Basketball Operations, and he supposedly has his eye on Milt Newton, one of his former players, to come in as GM and Mike Woodson to take over as coach. Thoughts after the jump.
If you're wondering who Milt Newton is, here's an interview he did with Wizards Magazine a couple years ago.
According to the Wizards' site, Newton is VP of Player Personnel right now, serving under Ernie Grunfeld. He also played for Brown at Kansas in 1988. Since he wasn't the man in charge in Washington, it's hard to assign credit or blame for the team's decisions in his 7+ years with the organization, but when you look at the Wizards, can you point to a single draft pick that's worked out for them in that time? Signing Arenas the first time was probably a good move, trading for Jamison and Butler as well, but they haven't developed a single home-grown (drafted) player for a long, long time.
I also have mixed feelings about Mike Woodson as a coach. I thought his job was in doubt about three seasons ago, but what he's done with the Hawks since then has been impressive. The Hawks have improved every year of his six years at the helm in Atlanta, you can't discount that. Having taken a team from the dregs of the league to a #3 seed without a "superstar" should probably be a pretty marketable skill. There's still a big question as to whether Atlanta will let him get away. I also don't think I'd call him a defense-first coach. His Hawks teams have never finished in the top-ten in defensive efficiency, and this year they really excelled thanks to their offense (#2 in the league, defensively they were #12). On the other hand, he's probably going to take the Hawks to the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year in a couple of days.
It's tough for me to get my mind around this situation. On the one hand, I think putting Larry Brown in an executive position between the basketball decision makers and the owners is a very good thing, assuming the owners give him the spending power. Having someone else making the personnel decision is also a very good thing, assuming Brown gives his GM full power over the roster. Any coach would be an improvement over Eddie Jordan, and I do like how Mike Woodson guided his team from the depths.
If this is exactly how things work out, my main concern would be Newton. He's obviously one of Larry's guys and I'm not sold in the least on Larry's roster building ability. If LB comes in here with the long term as his primary concern, that would be great. But if he comes in looking for a quick fix, and Newton is simply doing his bidding, I think it will not end well. Also, if Larry Brown is the main guy in your organization you always have to worry about a couple of things. (1) He's going to get the coaching bug again. That's inevitable. Are you willing to let him take over as coach in a year? (2) If you aren't willing to let him coach your team, then you have to accept the fact that he's probably going to leave after a year or tow.
All things considered, I could probably get behind this move. I think it's preferable to having Brown come in here as coach/gm and start trading youth for veterans (assuming that wouldn't be his game plan from the President's position). I think having Brown making the spending decisions instead of Snider/Luukko would be a brilliant move, and probably the biggest improvement this franchise could make right now. But something just doesn't smell right. This isn't my first choice, my first choice would probably be to bring Brown in as President, promote DiLeo to GM and bring in Van Gundy to coach (with Thibodeau as his defensive assistant, assuming Doc Rivers leaves Boston).
Also, keep in mind that the day Brown is hired, Stefanski is almost certainly put out to pasture, or at the very least his decision-making power is gone. That's my take, at least.
This truly is one of those rumors where I don't know if I want to believe it or not. What do you guys think?
(h/t Liberty Ballers)