Knicks Fire Brown, Name Thomas New Coach

The New York Knicks put Larry Brown out of his coaching misery Thursday, ending weeks of uncertainty by firing the Hall of Fame coach with four years and a reported $40 million left on his contract. President and general manager Isiah Thomas will replace Brown as coach.

In Brown's one season in New York, the Knicks stumbled to a 23-59 record -- second worst in the NBA and matching the most losses in club history -- while Brown publicly feuded with Stephon Marbury and other players.

But the postseason may have been even more difficult for Brown.

His coaching status had been in limbo since reports surfaced in May that owner James Dolan was looking to buy out Brown's contract. It was at about that time that Brown called himself a "dead man walking" because of the uncertainty.

Brown's agent, Joe Glass, had said he wouldn't accept a buyout, so the Knicks took their time with the decision. That created an awkward situation in which Brown was running the Knicks' workouts of draft prospects without knowing what role he had within the organization. The draft is next Wednesday.

With no financial settlement reached, has learned that a clause in Brown's contract designates NBA commissioner David Stern as the arbitrator of any financial dispute between the sides, meaning the final chapter of this drama has yet to play out.

"No one in our organization is happy with last season and we all accept responsibility for our performance," Thomas said in a statement released by the Knicks. "This has been a difficult time for the entire organization and our fans.

"Larry Brown is a great coach, but for various reasons, bringing him to the Knicks did not turn out the way we had hoped and we wish him the best in the future."

It's the second straight ugly ending for Brown, who was bought out by the Pistons last season despite leading Detroit to the NBA finals, winning one title, in both of his seasons there.

The Knicks then gave the Brooklyn native what he called his "dream job" with hopes that he could return his hometown team to the playoffs. But despite a league-high payroll of more than $120 million, the result was perhaps the most embarrassing season in franchise history.

Brown, who missed three games in April because of illness, had only one worse season as a coach, when he went 21-61 with the San Antonio Spurs in 1988-89.

The bickering with Marbury -- a favorite of Thomas and Dolan -- just added to the chaos. Brown and Marbury clashed when Brown coached the U.S. team in the 2004 Olympics, and the relationship was closely watched from the moment Brown arrived in New York.

Their next public feud, played out almost entirely in the media, began in March.

Marbury vowed to shoot more freely next season, because playing Brown's team-oriented offense wasn't leading to enough wins. Brown fired back that Marbury already had enough freedom and should do what was best for the team, and the back-and-forth continued for four days before Brown pulled Marbury aside to settle it.

Other players said they were confused about their roles with the team, as Brown used more than 40 different starting lineups, easily the most in the league. Thomas acquired Steve Francis and Jalen Rose during the season, but neither made much impact.

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