NEWS

Cavs secure coach Mike Brown with contract extension

Chris Beaven

More job security came Mike Brown’s way Monday when the Cavaliers extended his contract as head coach.

Don’t expect the extra security to change his mindset, though.

“I just want to win,” Brown said after Monday’s practice. “That was my focus coming here ... because that’s what this is about.”

No Cavaliers head coach has ever won a higher percentage of games than Brown, who also guided the team to its first NBA Finals last June.

“We’ve won more playoff games the last couple years than we have in the history of the organization, and Mike’s been a big part of that,” said Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry, who announced the extension Monday. “I’m excited to say that he’ll be our coach for the next few years and let’s see where we can go all together with this thing.”

Terms of the extension were not released. It is believed Brown received a two-year extension, which would keep him with the team through the 2010-11 season.

“Everybody was involved in having this happen,” said Brown, who was quick to thank ownership, the front office and players.

Ferry said announcing the extension now — as the Cavs approach this season’s halfway mark — “sends a message to everyone that Mike’s our coach, we believe in what he’s done, and I think the players ultimately ... believe in Mike and what he’s doing as well.”

All-Star LeBron James endorsed the move after practice Monday.

“I think it’s good,” James said. “I thinks it’s some security for myself, for the organization. He’s done a great job. He’s won a lot of ballgames for us. He’s going to be good for our team.”

Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who has played for six other head coaches since the Cavs drafted him in 1996, called Brown’s extension, “very well deserved.”

Brown, the franchise’s 17th head coach, is 119-82 in 2 1/2 seasons in Cleveland. His .592 winning percentage is tops in team history; so are his 19 playoff wins. The Cavs went 50-32 each of the last two seasons, becoming one of the league’s best defensive teams in that time.

Ferry and Brown began talking about a contract extension over the summer. But their first priority was to take care of the roster. That was not easy.

Two of last year’s key players, Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao, missed training camp over contract disputes. Pavlovic came to terms just before the season began, while Varejao didn’t come into the fold until December.

Those situations coupled with injuries to several players, including James, have made this a challenging season for the Cavs. They also struggled defensively for much of the first two months after Brown put a greater emphasis on improving their offense during training camp.

But the Cavs have come around in recent weeks. Brown’s trademark defensive style has returned, and they have won seven of nine. They are 19-18 heading into tonight’s 8 p.m. game at Memphis.

“We’ve done a pretty good job overall of battling through (things),” Ferry said.

With the Cavs having a rare three-day break in the schedule over the weekend, Ferry and Brown got together for what the GM called “a quick, easy negotiation” the last few days.

“Being a head coach is a hard job,” Ferry said. “Finding someone that can do a good job with it is a challenge. ... Mike’s done a good job with it. This is a way for us to show him that we believe in him and we look for more great things to come.”

Reach Repository sports writer Chris Beaven at (330) 580-8345 or e-mail: chris.beaven@cantonrep.com