CLEVELAND --- Of the many reasons the Cleveland Cavaliers had for firing coach Mike Brown after five seasons without an NBA title, one mattered most: They can't lose LeBron James.
Less than two weeks after their stunning second-round loss to Boston in the NBA playoffs, the Cavaliers fired Brown on Monday, an expected move that perhaps indicates the team believes it can re-sign James, the two-time MVP and free agent-in-waiting.
Brown was the most successful coach in franchise history. In five seasons, he led the Cavs to the playoffs every year, to the finals in 2007 and to 127 wins in the past two seasons. But Brown never won a championship, and after Cleveland's second consecutive early exodus from the postseason -- a collapse that included two blowout losses at home and dissension in the Cavs' locker room -- and with James about to explore free agency, owner Dan Gilbert decided to make a change.
"After a long and deep analysis of all of the factors that led to the disappointing early ends to our playoff runs over the past two seasons, we concluded that it was time for the Cavaliers to move in a different direction," Gilbert said in a statement. "The expectations of this organization are very high and, although change always carries an element of risk, there are times when that risk must be taken in an attempt to break through to new, higher levels of accomplishment.
"This is one of those times."
The Cavs did not hold a news conference to explain their decision to relieve Brown, who went 314-177 and was the league's coach of the year in 2009.
Brown was not immediately available for comment. No one answered the door at his home in Westlake, Ohio.
A James family publicist said the star is on vacation and would not be available to comment on Brown's dismissal.
SUNS: Steve Nash has a broken nose but says he doesn't expect it to be a problem for him in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
The Phoenix playmaker sustained the slight fracture in a fourth-quarter collision with Derek Fisher in the Suns' 118-109 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.
He spoke briefly with reporters after practice Monday before leaving to have the nose put back in place by a specialist.
Nash played the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals with his right eye swollen shut after taking an inadvertent elbow from San Antonio's Tim Duncan .
Nash said he had broken his nose "a handful" of times and wasn't planning to wear any protective gear or Manu Ginobili -style tape job for tonight's game.
HORNETS: Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau is the leading candidate to fill New Orleans' coaching vacancy and the team could offer him the job this week, a person familiar with the process said Monday.