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Detroit coach denies reports of heading to Cleveland

MIAMI -- Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown said Wednesday he
has never spoken to Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert about the
possibility of becoming president of the Cavaliers.
Responding to a published report suggesting he might want to
leave the Pistons after this season and become Cleveland's
president of basketball operations, Brown said he would like to
remain Detroit's coach -- but only if he's able to overcome a health
problem he plans to address as soon as the season ends.
"I don't want to draw this thing out. As soon as the season's
over, I'm going to get it checked. And I hope in a couple days I'll
be able to give a definitive answer," Brown said before Game 2 of
the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat.
"I think within 72 hours (of the end of the season) I'll be
able to let (team president Joe Dumars) know. If he wants to make a
change before that, I can accept that."
Brown said he will stop coaching if his health problem cannot be
fixed, but he would want to continue working in basketball in some
capacity.
"This is my last coaching job," Brown said. "The only place
I'm going to coach next season, or ever, is Detroit, I think, in
terms of ever."
The New York Times, quoting an anonymous Eastern Conference
executive, reported Wednesday that Brown has talked recently to the
Cleveland owner. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the
Cavaliers had asked the Pistons' permission to speak to Brown.
"Never talked," Brown said of Gilbert. "I don't know if I've
ever met him."
Dumars declined comment.
Brown, whose name has been also linked at times with the New
York Knicks' and Los Angeles Lakers' coaching vacancies, along with
a handful of other jobs, has three years remaining on a five-year,
$25 million contract.
Gilbert, speaking to CNBC on Wednesday, said the Cavaliers "are
undergoing a massive transformation" and that he will announce the
hiring of a new coach, new general manager and president in the
next one to two weeks.
He wouldn't, however, speak specifically about Brown.
"There's a lot of names that are kind of circulating out there
and a lot of rumors," Gilbert said. "And unfortunately, or
fortunately, I can't comment on any of them. ... There's nothing
imminent right now signing with anybody but we're getting very
close. We're very excited about the candidates we're talking to."
Gilbert is looking for someone to replace former GM Jim Paxson,
who was fired April 21, a day after the season ended with the
Cavaliers missing the playoffs for the seventh straight year. And
LeBron James, the team's star, reportedly prefers Seattle's Nate
McMillan to take over as Cleveland coach.
"LeBron will be in the playoffs next year," Gilbert said.
"We're going to do everything we can to build a world class
organization in Cleveland."
The 64-year-old Brown coached James on last summer's U.S.
Olympic basketball team that won a bronze medal in Athens. James
was a reserve on the Olympic team and was unhappy with his limited
role as the backup behind Allen Iverson at shooting guard.
Brown missed parts of this season because of a hip operation
that led to more problems, and he nearly resigned at midseason
before deciding to continue coaching while dealing with his health
problem, the specifics of which he did not want disclosed.
"I don't want to continue coaching with what I have to deal
with," Brown said in an interview with The Associated Press and
the Pistons' four newspaper beat writers. "If it's cleared up,
then we won't even have an issue.
"My goal is to do the best job I can here, and then hopefully
be a coach, because that's what I do. If I can't, then I'll deal
with that."