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AP Source: Brown leaning toward Charlotte return

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Larry Brown has begun preparations for next season in Charlotte and is leaning toward returning for a third season coaching the Bobcats, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Brown has been at Time Warner Cable Arena this week and is expected to be on hand Friday when the Bobcats work out rookie prospects, the person said on condition of anonymity because the team has made no official announcement on Brown's future.

The 69-year-old Brown, who did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment, could address his plans as soon as Friday and end weeks of uncertainty for the Michael Jordan-owned Bobcats.

A Hall of Famer and the only coach to win NCAA and NBA titles, Brown has coached 13 pro and college teams. His well-traveled past has been in the spotlight since the Bobcats were swept by Orlando in the first round of their first playoff appearance and Brown declined to commit to returning in 2010-11.

In an end-of-season meeting with reporters on April 30, Brown lamented the time he spent away from his wife and two teenage children, who live in the Philadelphia area.

Brown has said numerous times he'll only coach for Jordan, who hired Brown after his two-year exile following a miserable 23-59 season in New York in 2005-06. But Brown wouldn't close the door on retiring or taking a front-office job — and there have still been numerous reports linking him to other coaching jobs.

His chances of returning to Philadelphia, where he led the 76ers to the 2001 finals, appeared to be squashed when the Sixers hired Doug Collins. But the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, and Cleveland Cavaliers all have openings, too.

Jordan, who bought the money-losing Bobcats in March for $275 million, has been patient with Brown, who quickly made the Bobcats into a a playoff team. Jordan said he wouldn't stand in the way of Brown leaving for family reasons despite having two years left on his contract. But Jordan also said last month that "I'm not going to let him go so easily."

Brown's indecision has put the Bobcats in a difficult position as the pool of potential replacements shrinks.

But Brown has been busy getting ready for next season. Assistant coach Phil Ford said last weekend they have scheduled workouts with prospects despite not having a pick in this month's draft.

Thanks to numerous trades and Brown's demanding style, the Bobcats finished a team-best 44-38 before Orlando's four-game sweep. Brown said after the final game that he enjoyed coaching the team and wasn't ready to leave the bench. But he said family ties tugged at him, too.

"I don't want them to grow up and all of a sudden I blink and say I missed that," Brown said. "It's something that I'm just going to have to address and figure out."