Brown will be team's fourth coach in less than a year
NEW YORK -- A month of drama for Larry Brown ended with him landing his "dream job."
At an age when many people are pondering retirement, Brown moved ahead into yet another chapter of his itinerant coaching career Wednesday when his agent finalized a contract with the New York Knicks.
Brown will sit alongside team president Isiah Thomas when the Knicks introduce the 22nd coach in franchise history at a news conference Thursday at Madison Square Garden, where the buzz could be coming back after nearly a half-decade of mediocrity and malaise.
Brown's agent worked out the final details of contract language with team executives Wednesday, clearing the way for the Knicks to introduce Brown as the 22nd head coach in franchise history.
Less than 10 days after his divorce from the Detroit Pistons was finalized, Brown will be trading down in talent but up in salary and sentiment.
The Knicks were Brown's favorite team when he was growing up in Brooklyn, and the eighth stop on his NBA coaching carousel will truly be a "dream job" -- just what Brown called it earlier this year.
He'll join a long list of distinguished coaches -- including Joe Lapchick, Red Holzman, Pat Riley and Lenny Wilkens -- who have guided one of the NBA's charter franchises.
"We have it just about done. There are a couple of things to tidy up," agent Joe Glass said early Wednesday evening. Less than an hour later, everything was in place -- except Brown's signature, which was due Thursday.
In 22 seasons as a professional coach, Brown has compiled a 987-741 record. The title he won with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 was the only NBA championship of his career.
Glass would not comment on reports the contract would be for five years and between $50 million to $60 million. He said there were no major issues that needed to be worked out in the final contract negotiations Tuesday and Wednesday.
Brown did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
July has turned out to be a whirlwind month for the coach who will be 65 by the time training camp begins. He began it at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he underwent surgery for a bladder problem, then told the Pistons he was prepared to return.
He and Glass met with Detroit owner Bill Davidson and team president Joe Dumars that Brown originally thought had gone well. But Davidson, peeved that Brown had spoken to the Cleveland Cavaliers during the playoffs, had grown tired of the drama that constantly surrounds the high-maintenance coach.
Just hours after the Pistons finished a severance agreement with Brown that paid him $7 million, Knicks president Isiah Thomas picked up the phone and made it known that New York had a serious interest.
Meetings with owner James Dolan, interim coach Herb Williams and Madison Square Garden president Steve Mills followed, and Brown gave his agent to go-ahead to hammer out the contract language.
Brown becomes the team's fourth coach in less than a year, following Williams, Wilkens and Don Chaney. The Knicks haven't been to the finals since 1999 under Jeff Van Gundy and haven't won a title since Holzman coached in 1973.
Brown takes over a roster that Thomas has transformed into a mix of youngsters and high-salaried veterans. Turning them into a winner will be the latest challenge for Brown in a nomadic NBA coaching career that has included stints with the Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, New Jersey Nets and Denver Nuggets.
Brown also coached Kansas to an NCAA title in 1988, had stints with UCLA and the Carolina Cougars of the ABA, and led the 2004 U.S. Olympic team that finished a disappointing third. Part of that roster included Knicks guard Stephon Marbury, who clashed with Brown last summer. Marbury has already publicly endorsed Brown's hiring, and Brown has said he will have no problem coaching the enigmatic guard.
After missing 17 games last season due to a hip replacement operation that led to the bladder problem, Brown's wife, Shelly, had been concerned about her husband's health. He underwent his third surgery in nine months shortly after the Pistons lost Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs.
Doctors told Brown he needed rest, and he and his wife have decided he'll get enough of it during the next two months before training camp begins.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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