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Published: Saturday, 6/25/2005

Who knows what Brown will do next?

SAN ANTONIO - How now Brown?

Will he or won't he? Only Larry Brown knows if he'll return to coach the Detroit Pistons next season. And he's not saying right now.

"I hope I'll be back coaching," Brown said immediately following the Pistons' 81-74 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. "That's been my plan. If Joe wants me, if I'm able to do it."

"Joe" is Joe Dumars, the Pistons president of basketball operations who hired Brown two years ago.

During that period, Brown led the Pistons to one title and to within one win of another championship.

With Brown, however, there's always a Plan B. On the day that he's hired, he's one day closer to leaving.

Brown insists he wants to remain with the Pistons, but his loyalty to the Pistons didn't prevent him from surfacing as a candidate to become the Cleveland Cavaliers president of basketball operations.

Brown is now apparently having second thoughts about the Cavaliers job.

But it's his initial thoughts that trouble Dumars and team owner Bill Davidson.

Davidson demands loyalty from his employees. In the immortal words of Brown, speaking with a division rival about a front-office job during the middle of the playoffs doesn't classify as doing things the "right way."

While there's no denying Brown's coaching brilliance, it's possible he may have burned some bridges with the Pistons.

Don't worry about Brown. He'll be fine.

A slew of job offers await Brown, who ranks third all-time in playoff coaching victories, if he's interested - and you know that he is, because that's always been Brown's M.O.

Here today - gone tomorrow.

Brown has cherished his time with the Pistons. He couldn't have asked any more from his players.

"I just love what I've been doing," Brown said of guiding Detroit to the Finals in each of his first two seasons. "Just because of the way they have allowed me to coach and the things that they have had to go through and the fact that they respect the game and respect each other so much."

When Brown told reporters late Thursday he wants to continue coaching the Pistons "if I'm able to do it," what he meant was he wants to stay on if he's healthy enough to coach.

Brown underwent hip surgery during the season. Complications from that surgery led to bladder problems that left Brown in great discomfort. He'll check into the Mayo Clinic next week and consult with his doctors to determine if he'll be healthy enough to coach next season.

If coaching is not an option, Brown will consider other options, such as the front-office position in Cleveland.

The Pistons are already preparing themselves for Brown's possible departure.

"I've learned so much personally from him about this game, about my game, that it's priceless," point guard Chauncey Billups said. "I don't anticipate him being gone, but if he is, it's going to be a dark day in the NBA."

Brown's run with the Pistons has been fun. But the fun never lasts too long before Brown takes his show on the road.

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