DALLAS, Texas – Larry Brown has always been known as a traveling man. The SMU basketball coach could be leaving again, according to at least one report.
Brown, who has been at SMU just one season, is on a short list of candidates to be the next coach of the Brooklyn Nets, an anonymous source told ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
The other candidates, according to Broussard’s tweet, are Phil Jackson and Brian Shaw. According to another anonymous source, Jackson has told the Nets he’s not interested.
The 72-year-old Brown has not said, either publicly or through a source, whether he’s interested in coaching the Nets. An SMU spokesman declined to comment.
Although he’s known for coaching Kansas to the 1988 NCAA title, Brown has an extensive coaching career in the professional ranks, starting in 1972 with the Carolina Cougars of the old ABA. He’s even coached the Nets before, during the 1981-82 and 82-83 seasons.
Brown was born in Brooklyn and grew up not far away in Long Beach, Long Island.
But as much as Brown always seems to be chasing the next coaching job, there are several reasons to believe he will be staying at SMU.
For one, he’s in the middle of selling his home in Philadelphia and moving his family to Dallas. His son, L.J., will be enrolling at SMU.
He’s also got a heck of a recruiting class coming in next season, rated as high as No. 14 nationally by one recruiting service. The class includes McDonald’s All-American Keith Frazier, a local product from Dallas Kimball.
It’s hard to believe Brown would leave before seeing the fruits of his recruiting labor. Especially when he’s worked so hard to regain trust in the Dallas-area recruiting scene, which has produced a number of top players, including LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Bosh.
If Brown were to leave now, he wouldn’t just be turning his back on his recruits, he would be damaging SMU, the school that gave him a chance to get back into coaching when others said he was too old.
SMU is in the midst of a complete renovation of Moody Coliseum and will enter the American Athletic Conference (formerly the Big East). Both are significant events that will probably go a lot smoother with Brown’s presence.
Sure, associate head coach Tim Jankovich has been tabbed as the “head coach in waiting” for whenever Brown decides to leave or step down.
No knock on Jankovich, who is a respected coach, but when you’re trying to pay Moody’s bills and gain credibility in a new conference, there’s nothing like having a Hall of Famer as your head coach.
Despite winning at title at Kansas, Brown is mostly associated with the NBA. He’s won a title there, too, with the Pistons in 2004. If he takes the Nets’ job, it will be his 10th NBA franchise to coach.
However, at this stage in his career, Brown seems more energized by the college game. He loves to teach, and modern NBA players aren’t nearly as coachable as college kids.
After all, it wasn’t NBA teams that Brown hung around with before taking the SMU job. He was a frequent visitor at Villanova’s practices, lending his expertise to coach Jay Wright. He also tagged along with Kansas during its 2012 run to the NCAA championship game.
That doesn’t sound like a man yearning to get back to the NBA.
You never say never when it comes to a basketball vagabond like Brown, but the Nets would have to make a pretty special offer for even him to uproot at this time.