A couple of days ago, I noted that Larry Brown had quit his job with the 76ers, and speculated, without any special insight, that he might land in Chicago.
Things have changed, and I'd now like to change my bet.
First the Charlotte Bobcats announced this morning that they have fired Sam Vincent. The decision, say the Bobcats, came after Michael Jordan met with Vincent after the season.
"The decision to remove Sam as head coach after just one season was difficult," Jordan says in a press release, "but it was a decision that had to be made because my first obligation is to do what is in the best interest of our team."
Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer is reporting what sources have told me: in end-of-season interviews between players and Bobcat front-office personnel, Vincent's flaws were a key topic.
And now, a source close to the situation says Larry Brown -- a University of North Carolina legend just like Bobcats honcho Michael Jordan -- will be the next coach of the Bobcats.
Five other sources with connections to the team and/or Brown tell me they have heard the same thing, and believe it to be true, although none have specific knowledge of the talks.
Everyone I talk to who hears about this says it makes sense. And once you start looking for signs it is happening, they seem to pop up everywhere, even in the smallest of ways. For instance, Bonnell reports: "Two sources said shortly after Brown resigned as executive vice president with the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday, a Bobcats employee contacted the 76ers for biographical information on Brown."
And last night David Stern, the king of coy, actually said a throwaway "yes" when asked by Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News if he"has a job for Larry Brown." What did he mean by that? It was unclear at the time, but it's a little clearer now.
UPDATE: Check this out. ESPN's Marc Stein from March:
Bobcats president Michael Jordan would surely prefer not to fire Sam Vincent after just one season. Yet one plugged-in source describes Vincent's dismissal as an inevitability, with any hit that Jordan might take for the growing perception that the former teammate he hired can't reach Charlotte's players sure to be softened if he can convince a coach of Brown's stature to take over.
That scenario would be reminiscent of Jordan's tenure in Washington, when the first coach MJ selected -- Leonard Hamilton -- lasted only one season before being replaced by a proven NBA commodity in Doug Collins.
I'd argue, furthermore, that Brown is unlikely to come across a more appetizing option than Charlotte, even if the Grizz are interested or even if he's given an opportunity by the Hawks' dysfunctional ownership group to replace his former assistant Mike Woodson in Atlanta, as Peter Vecsey suggested Friday night on NBA TV.
Brown has made it clear that he doesn't want his 23-59 nightmare as the Knicks' coach to be his last big job and the Bobcats would have to appeal to the 67-year-old given his North Carolina ties, Jordan's decent collection of talent to work with and the Bobs' overwhelming need for someone who can teach them how to win.
All that would set Brown up perfectly in the East for the sort of instant improvement he triggered at pretty much every NBA stop he's made except with his hometown Knicks.