Contract had three years, $18 million left

Updated: July 19, 2005, 1:21 PM ET
ESPN.com

After back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals under Larry Brown, the Detroit Pistons will have a new coach next season. Pistons president Joe Dumars told ESPN that the team and Brown are in ongoing talks for a buyout of Brown's contract, which has three years left at an estimated $18 million.

Dumars added that Brown's staff has been told that the talks are ongoing. No one has been fired or dismissed.

Brown, however, remained willing to coach the team, Joe Glass, his agent, told the Detroit News on Monday.

"It is a correct statement that there is a package on the table, but I don't like the word 'buyout,' " Glass told the paper. "The word buyout implies that both parties agree to the termination of services."

There was no immediate word whether the buyout would contain any stipulations that would prevent Brown from coaching another team for this upcoming season.

Dumars added that ex-Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, who turned down a lucrative offer from Milwaukee while waiting for the months-long Brown saga to reach a climax, is the leading candidate to replace Brown in Detroit but has yet to interview with the Pistons.

Brown said as recently as Friday that he was "confident" about returning to the Pistons next season, having overcome season-long speculation about new jobs to lead Detroit to within one victory of back-to-back championships.

"Larry Brown is physically, spiritually and enthusiastically willing to coach the Detroit Pistons next season," Glass told the paper. "Whatever they [the Pistons] do from that point on is not on Larry Brown. If arrangements have been made, they were not mutually agreed upon."

Yet Brown, according to sources, could not guarantee that his health would hold up for a full season, which Pistons owner Bill Davidson had made a prerequisite for the 64-year-old's return.

The morning after last month's NBA draft and less than a week after Detroit lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, Brown was hospitalized for treatment of a medical problem that developed from complications following hip surgery in November and persisted after a second procedure in March.

It was not immediately known if the buyout arrangement would be finalized Monday.

It also remains to be seen whether Brown will take some time away from the NBA, stay with the Pistons in some capacity, or immediately pursue a coaching position with New York Knicks. New York president Isiah Thomas has held off on making Herb Williams his full-time head coach in the event that Brown becomes available.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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