CLEVELAND -- The Cavaliers have struggled to stay on top of
the Eastern Conference after coach Mike Brown helped take the team
to its first NBA Finals last season.
Team owner Dan Gilbert showed his support for Brown hasn't
wavered by giving him a two-year contract extension Monday that
will keep him with the club through the 2010-11 season.
"This is a way for us to show him that we believe in him and
that we look for more great things to come," general manager Danny Ferry said.
Brown is in his third season with the Cavaliers, who were swept
in the finals by San Antonio. His contract was to expire after the
Ferry and Gilbert had been discussing an extension since the
summer for Brown, a first-time coach when he joined the Cavaliers
who now has a franchise-best .592 winning percentage (119-82).
However, the Cavaliers (19-18) have had an up-and-down start
this season, with restricted free agents Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic holding out in contract disputes and superstar LeBron James missing six games because of a finger injury.
"We've had our challenges this year with injuries, contract
situations, etc., and we've done a pretty good job overall of
battling through those," Ferry said. "We've kind of had the
mantra, and it was started by Mike, of a no excuses team, and
that's something Mike and LeBron and our players have all hung
In addition to facing opponents without James and Varejao for
extended stretches, Brown also has had issues with players like
reserves Damon Jones and Ira Newble, who refused to play late in
the Cavaliers' Christmas Day win against Miami.
The contract extension leaves no doubt what the front office
thinks of the defensive-minded Brown.
"It sends a message to everyone that Mike is our coach," Ferry
said. "We believe in what he's doing."
James, who credited Brown with helping him become a better
defensive player, felt the extension was a positive not just for
Brown, but the team.
"It's some security for himself and our organization," James
said. "He's done a great job. He's won a lot of ball games for
Brown, who previously was an assistant with Indiana and San
Antonio, downplayed how the extension would affect him.
"No matter how much money I make the bottom line for me is I
want to win a championship," he said. "I'm thankful. I feel
blessed. I'm excited about it. My family is excited about it. But
it doesn't change my thought process."