Well-traveled Larry Brown has reached an agreement to return to the NBA as coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Monday.
The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because an official announcement has not been made, said Brown was expected to sign a contract on Tuesday. The Bobcats have called an afternoon news conference for what they termed a “major basketball announcement.”
The 67-year-old Hall of Famer will be taking over his ninth NBA team, and it will be his first coaching job since a messy exit from the New York Knicks in 2006. Brown will replace Sam Vincent, fired on Saturday after going 32-50 in his one season.
Reached early Tuesday, Vincent said he wasn’t surprised that part-owner Michael Jordan decided to bring in a veteran coach.
“Michael never said that he was hiring coach Brown. He just said they were going to make some decisions that were in the best interest of the organization,” Vincent said. “So I kind of assumed of going in the direction of hiring a veteran coach and someone who was very popular in the community.”
Brown’s agent, Joe Glass, refused to confirm or deny that his client was headed to Charlotte.
“I have no information on Larry Brown,” Glass said early Tuesday.
Brown won the NBA championship with Detroit in 2004 and the NCAA title with Kansas in 1988. He resigned last week as executive vice president of the Philadelphia 76ers, and Glass indicated Brown wanted to return to coaching.
The move means Jordan has turned to a fellow former North Carolina Tar Heel to try to get the fourth-year Bobcats into the playoffs for the first time. Jordan and Brown both played for former North Carolina coach Dean Smith.
Brown, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, is one of five NBA coaches with at least 1,000 victories.
While he’s had contentious splits with several teams, he’s had success at nearly every job before his poor season with the Knicks in 2005-06.
Terms of Brown’s deal in Charlotte were uncertain. But it’s likely he will get a much larger salary than Vincent. Having never coached in the NBA before, Vincent made about $1.5 million this season. He has one year left on a two-year contract.
“I wish coach Brown all the success in the world,” Vincent said. “I think he’ll have a great group of guys and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Vincent entered the job last spring confident, saying he’d be “incredibly discouraged and disappointed” if the franchise didn’t reach the playoffs.
But Vincent struggled to develop a steady rotation and often clashed with players. The Bobcats finished with one fewer win than in 2006-07 under Bernie Bickerstaff, who moved to a front-office position.
Vincent’s firing marked the second time in Jordan’s checkered history as an NBA executive that one of his coaches lasted only one season. Leonard Hamilton resigned after going 19-63 with the Washington Wizards in 2000-01.
Jordan was eventually fired by the Wizards. He bought a minority stake in the Bobcats in 2006 and took over the decision-making from Bickerstaff.
Now Jordan has turned to the veteran Brown to try to give a boost to the struggling Bobcats, who have also struggled to win over fans. The Bobcats ranked 24th out of 30 teams in attendance this season.