Brown focused on 76ers' front office, not bench

Updated: January 8, 2007, 11:23 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Larry Brown wants his grade-school kids to unpack their suitcases, get used to one house and graduate from a suburban Philadelphia school district.

Larry Brown timeline
Years Team Record
'72-74 Carolina Cougars 104-64
'74-79 Denver Nuggets 251-134
'79-81 UCLA Bruins 42-17
'81-83 New Jersey Nets 91-67
'83-88 Kansas Jayhawks 135-44
'88-91 San Antonio Spurs 153-131
'91-93 Los Angeles Clippers 64-53
'93-97 Indiana Pacers 190-138
'97-03 Philadelphia 76ers 255-205
'03-05 Detroit Pistons 108-56
'05-06 New York Knicks 23-59

Brown's had it with moving his family. He's enjoyed dropping off his two children off at school and picking them up later in the day. The Brown family even went on their first Christmas vacation.

Six months of free time, though, was enough for Brown. And now he's back with the 76ers as an executive vice president, six years after leading them to the NBA Finals.

While his return sparked speculation he might eventually return to the bench, Brown said Monday he wants to help the fallen franchise only in his new role and has no immediate plans to coach again.

"At this moment, no," he said. "I didn't come here to be involved in the coaching. After last year, I think I need to step away from coaching for a while, and I'm 66. I don't know if that's what I'm looking to do."

Brown's been a winner at almost every stop, from Kansas to Detroit and many points between. He proved he could take the 76ers from lottery losers to playoff contenders, turning a team that lost 51 games his first season in 1997-98 into one that won a playoff series the next.

Now he joins a club that is 9-24. But the 76ers also have three first-round draft picks this year, including two choices from Denver in the Allen Iverson trade, and the elements may be in place for Brown to try and revitalize the franchise again.

"Hopefully we can do the same now," Brown said. "They've got a lot of good young kids on this team, so it's going to be fun being part of it."

Coach Maurice Cheeks, an assistant under Brown for four seasons in Philadelphia, said he valued Brown's input.

"I'm not opposed to Larry being around," Cheeks said. "Larry is a Hall of Fame coach. He understands this game as well as anyone. So anything that I can do to try and help us be better ... I'm not opposed to doing."

Brown clashed with team president Isiah Thomas in his only season in New York. He was fired by the Knicks in June after going 23-59 and received an $18.5 million payout from the team.

Brown had been acting as a 76ers consultant this season. He's kept a low profile in Philadelphia, visiting one practice and attending one game, and offered feedback to team president and close friend Billy King on the Iverson trade.

"I'm not the coach. I'm going to help Billy," Brown said. "If Mo needs me, and he wants me to point things out to him, I'd be happy to. We spoke when we were coaching against each other. I just want to see us getting better and I want to be a part of it."

Brown could certainly offer insight on the 76ers' next two opponents: they host Detroit on Tuesday and play at New York on Wednesday.

The 76ers may not have Chris Webber for either of those games. Webber returned to practice Monday after missing nine of the last 12 games with foot and ankle injuries. But Webber, who has been unhappy with his role and the losing, said after practice he would not play against the Pistons, and didn't know if he'd ever play for the 76ers again.

When asked if the team was trying to buy out his contract, Webber said, "I've been talking to them for a long time," indicating he might soon be finished in Philly.

Cheeks said Webber has been a complete professional, but understood why the 36-year-old forward wanted to end his career with a winner.

If he were to go, that would be two All-Stars off the roster in a matter of weeks. Brown and Iverson had a contentious relationship, but the two worked together. Brown said he would have been comfortable returning to the 76ers even if Iverson had not been traded last month.

"I hope Allen can have the success he deserves and that we can build up into something this city can be proud of," he said.

Brown's job with the 76ers was his longest with any team in his 34-year coaching career. He left to take the job at Detroit and led the Pistons to an NBA title in the first of his two seasons there before his brief stay in New York.

When Brown left the 76ers for the Pistons after the 2002-03 season, he had two years left on a contract that paid him $6 million a season. The 76ers released him from a contractual clause that prohibited him from coaching another NBA team if he left Philadelphia prematurely.

"I think most people understood why I left," Brown said. "I didn't think at the time it was right for me to continue. I was here six years and I thought it got to the point where I wasn't able to do the things I thought I should do. It was time."

Brown did not want to look back on his one season in New York or talk much about the Knicks' recent improvement under Thomas.

"They've got a good young group and I think they've done a great job," Brown said.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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