Playing Devil’s Advocate

Look, I will never root against a Cleveland sports team, no matter how utilitarian a loss may be. In Week 17 of the 2004 season, I was rooting for a Browns win, even though beating Houston was completely useless and actually cost the Brownies a draft spot. I don’t care; there is nothing fun about losing. So with that in mind, I remind you that the following sentiment is 100% hypothetical. OK? Cool.

First, let me build a base here… a foundation if you will. There are a couple things going on in the NBA right now that have caught my interest:

  1. There have been some incredibly good coaches that have been or are about to be fired within a 24-hour radius of your reading this. Two such names that jump right off the page are Avery Johnson and Mike D’Antoni.
  2. Mike Brown’s inability to coach anything that remotely resembles offense is costing the Cavaliers games. If you don’t believe me, ask the good folks at Waiting For Next Year. They’ll tell you.

Bearing all of this in mind, would a Cavs collapse be the worst thing in the world for the long-term health of the franchise? Obviously the initial hit would feel something like getting sacked by Michael Dean Perry, losing to village idiot DeShawn Stevenson and his beard squeezins, but it could lead to a productive offseason.

Remember, last year’s offseason fell on the wrong side of the sports axiom of “If you’re not getting better you’re getting worse,” and that is due in large part to the fact that the Cavs were the Eastern Conference champions. Danny Ferry seemingly rested on his laurels while Boston assembled an All-Star team from the 2002 season on their roster, Orlando brought in some critical pieces and Detroit added depth. An early exit this year could inspire Ferry to be considerably more proactive this summer.

Obviously, though, an untimely playoff departure for the Cavaliers would likely result in a similarly premature exit for Mike Brown. Again, this is hypothetical; I am not calling for Mike Brown’s job. That said, if there were ever a summer where it would be advantageous to cut our large-domed bench boss loose, this would be it, granted the coaching talent already available.

I think it goes without saying that Avery Johnson would be the main target if Brown were to get the axe; I like Mike D’Antoni, but his Suns teams’ defense over the past few years has been attrocious… I don’t think that would work too well with current personnel. This is why Johnson would be a great–maybe even perfect–fit for the Cavaliers. As a former championship player he has the respect of his squad, he instilled defense on a team that was previously coached by Don Nelson (nuff said there) and he also can start to bring a better-looking offense to the Cavs. Of course, any offense that isn’t a series of 1-4 clearouts that amount to “let’s watch Lebron cause he’s really good” sets. Obviously his 23-24 playoff record in Dallas is a bit of a concern, but that’s coaching against the heavyweights of the Western Conference; you’ve got to imagine his playoff winning percentage would skyrocket if he were at the helm of one of the better teams in the East.

While this is 100% hypothetical, if you said you wouldn’t like to see Avery Johnson coaching the Cavaliers, I’d say you’re freaking high.

Do I think any of this will happen? No. The Cavs will win game 6 tomorrow and move on to invariably face the Celtics, who I still maintain they have a coinflip chance of beating, and then we’ll see where the team is at after that.

But it’s interesting to think about. Just throwing it out there.


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