Mike Brown and the Cleveland Cavaliers are getting back together.
Brown, who led the Cavaliers to the playoffs in all five seasons he coached them from 2005-10, has agreed in principle to a contract to return as their coach for a second time, a person with knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Brown has not yet signed his new deal, but has agreed to take the job, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations were ongoing. Brown’s hiring could be announced as early as Wednesday.
The sides were working through the length of the deal and other matters, but Brown’s back with the team he guided to its greatest successes. He went 272-138 and went to the playoffs every season with the Cavaliers, teaming with LeBron James on a run to the NBA Finals in 2007.
Brown was fired by owner Dan Gilbert after the Cavaliers lost to the Celtics in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, shortly before James decided he was leaving Cleveland for the Miami Heat as a free agent.
“‘I’m happy for him,’’ said James. ‘‘Very happy for him. I think he’s a really good coach, very defensive-minded coach. It’ll be good for those young guys that they have.’’
Brown spent one full season with the Lakers, but was fired by Los Angeles five games into this season. The Cavaliers have been without a coach since firing Byron Scott last week following his third straight losing season.
One of the main factors in Brown’s decision to come back to Cleveland was that he had already planned to move his family back to the area, long before Scott was fired. Brown is also close friends with Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant.
Brown met with Gilbert and Grant on Sunday in Detroit and negotiations intensified. Gilbert reached out to a few other high-profile coaches, including Phil Jackson. But Jackson had no interest and the search quickly zeroed in on Brown, who was the only candidate to be interviewed.
The Cavaliers knew they had to act quickly to snare Brown before they were in competition with other teams to sign him. Phoenix reportedly reached out to Brown about its vacancy in recent days, and other teams were expected to contact the 43-year-old.
Beyond his stellar record and postseason triumphs, Brown also helped build a winning foundation with the Cavaliers. It certainly helped that James was around, but Brown instilled a winning attitude and defense-wins belief in his players.
Scott was fired last week after three seasons following a 24-win season and with one year left on his contract. Scott was strapped with a young, inexperienced squad but Gilbert didn’t think the Cavaliers made adequate progress — especially on defense — with him so he’s handed his team back to the same coach he fired three years ago.
One and done
Mike Dunlap is one and done with the Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats fired Dunlap as coach after a single season.
The Bobcats went 21-61 under Dunlap, finishing with the second-worst record in the league ahead of only Orlando. Charlotte won just seven games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, but tripling last year’s victory total and a three-game winning streak to close the season weren’t enough to save Dunlap’s job.
Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said he and general manager Rich Cho met with players and Dunlap before approaching owner Michael Jordan and asking him to make a coaching change.
Dunlap struggled at times with game management, transitioning from the college game to the NBA and handling professional athletes, often benching veteran players for weeks at a time after they’d irritated him in some way.
Higgins said player input was ‘‘a part of the process, but not the only indicator.’’
Indiana Pacers forward Paul George was honored as the NBA’s Most Improved Player.
The announcement came less than a week after the 6-foot 9-inch forward finished his breakthrough regular season and less than 48 hours after he became only the second player in franchise history to record a triple-double in the NBA playoffs, joining Mark Jackson. He had 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists in the Pacers’ 107-90 Game 1 win over Atlanta — giving the Pacers their first 1-0 series lead since 2006. Game 2 is Wednesday in Indianapolis.
George averaged 17.4 points and 7.6 rebounds this season, both career highs. He averaged 12.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in 2011-12. He’s the fourth player in franchise history to win the award, joining Jalen Rose, Jermaine O’Neal, and Danny Granger.
Bryant no distraction
The Los Angeles Lakers have battled injuries, turmoil, and lofty expectations under a heavy spotlight all season, so excuse them if they roll their eyes over the attention given to Kobe Bryant’s tweets.
Bryant tweeted throughout the Lakers’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series. Bryant, out for the season with a torn Achilles’, critiqued his team’s offense on his Twitter account while watching the national broadcast Sunday afternoon.
Bryant will no longer tweet during games, saying he doesn’t want to be a distraction — but was he?
‘‘Absolutely not. I’m a distraction,’’ Metta World Peace said. ‘‘I’m much more of a distraction than Kobe is.’’
World Peace’s eccentricities aside, the Lakers have much more to worry about entering Game 2 on Wednesday night in San Antonio.
‘‘Our concern is with the Spurs and what we have to do to get a win tomorrow,’’ Dwight Howard said.