When the final buzzer sounded 11 days ago and the Cleveland Cavaliers' season was officially over, Cavs fans had two serious questions for their team.
1. What will you do to keep LeBron James in Cleveland?
2. Will Mike Brown be fired for the 2010 failure?
Late Sunday night, one of those questions was answered when Brown was fired by Cleveland . But with that move, has the Cavaliers front office answered the other question and, in essence, made their first major step towards keeping LeBron?
Every day, speculation runs rampant on which uniform James will be wearing when the 2010-11 season begins. In all likelihood, a majority of the 30 teams across the NBA are preparing their pitch to King James, but only the Cavaliers are able to discuss contract issues with their superstar until July 1st.
Mike Brown was a big part of the growth of the Cavaliers since his arrival five years ago. He is the man that coached Cleveland to a Finals appearance in 2007 when the team was starting players like Sasha Pavlovic and Larry Hughes, two names that are not likely to be listed amongst the better players in the league. LeBron James was the lone superstar on that squad, and Brown was the savvy coach who won them an Eastern Conference championship.
It's been no secret that Cavs GM Danny Ferry and majority owner Dan Gilbert have been making moves to keep LeBron happy for several years now. Retooling a team and adjusting the roster for maximum potential have always been a priority, and James has hopefully seen that dedication.
Trading two expiring contracts to pick up future Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O'Neal. Grabbing Antawn Jamison for Zydrunas Ilgauskas, then resigning Ilgauskas a month later. Swapping Damon Jones and Joe Smith for All-Star Mo Williams, then picking up Smith again later.
These trades were all designed to improve the cast surrounding LeBron James.
Sunday night, the Cavs simply made another "keep LeBron happy" move when they fired Brown. Brown was part of the rise of this team, but it was apparent that he had taken them as far as he could. It'd be a wise move to search for a new coach who can take them to the next level. But ultimately, this move was made first and foremost for LeBron James.
With a coaching vacancy, James can be part of the process to select the man to lead the Cavs in 2010-2011.
Until today, that was the one bargaining chip that the Chicago Bulls had to lure LeBron into the Windy City. Now the Cavaliers have matched that, and they still have 37 days to discuss options before the free agency market opens up.
The list of replacement coaches is already widening, and it includes some big names.
- Kentucky head coach John Calipari is at the top of the list. Calipari has been seeing his name thrown into the mix since he was seen at Cavs' playoff games with deal-maker William Wesley.
- Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, who has a long-standing friendship with Ferry is now being mentioned.
- Radio talk shows in Cleveland are discussing whether the Cavs should (and would) make an offer to Phil Jackson after the playoffs are over.
Rest assured, none of these men will be offered the job without the approval and the full endorsement of LeBron James.
Dan Gilbert may own the team, and Danny Ferry may be the general manager, but the keys to the Cleveland Cavaliers have just been handed to LeBron James. It's his decision now.
For more news on the Cleveland Cavs and LeBron Watch 2010, check out FS Ohio .