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Stephen A. Smith | Another chance to coach? Brown is all ears

It's Memphis, so there's nothing to brag about unless you're one of those fools who still believe Elvis isn't dead.

It's Memphis, so there's nothing to brag about unless you're one of those fools who still believe Elvis isn't dead.

Just don't expect Larry Brown to admit it's that bad a situation.

Brown is a Hall of Famer and a man recognized as one of basketball's brilliant minds. He's the coach formerly known as "Mr. Fixit," who won everywhere he's been for the better part of three decades. The exception was the 2005-06 season in New York, a season coaching the Knicks that sullied a once pristine reputation so drastically it sent a basketball junkie into hiding for months. Now the dust has settled, putting Brown, the 76ers' executive vice president, back in the mix as recently as yesterday, as he was en route to an interview for the Memphis Grizzlies' head coaching job.

"I'm just going to hear what they have to say," Brown said minutes before taking a flight to Chicago to meet with Grizzlies officials. "I have a job. At least until June 30, and hopefully longer, because I'm happy doing it. But I'm obviously interested in hearing what another team has to say. Especially considering how things ended for me the last time I was coaching. It's always nice to be wanted."

In case history hasn't educated anyone, it's important to pay attention to what Brown does not say as much as to what he does say. In this case, it would involve his coaching aspirations.

Brown, hired by chairman Ed Snider specifically to help the Sixers with this year's NBA draft, wants to coach again. He has never wanted to stop coaching. And somehow, some way, he plans to be back on the coaching sidelines in the near future.

Where? That remains to be seen.

As of yesterday afternoon, Memphis and Charlotte were interested, with the Grizzlies having the most appeal since they are in the best position to grab Ohio State's Greg Oden in the June draft.

Sacramento and Orlando could be possibilities, particularly if the Magic elect to part ways with Brian Hill and position themselves to pair Vince Carter with Dwight Howard. And although Brown emphatically tried to say otherwise, throwing more compliments at Billy King and Mo Cheeks than Oprah launches at John Travolta, the Sixers would be right in the mix, too.

Brown is not about to acknowledge as much, but numerous friends have done so on his behalf.

You can scour the NBA circuit and talk to Brown's confidants and they'll all say the same thing: Brown is born to coach. He loves the game and misses it terribly. But he doesn't miss the games as much as he misses the practices, tutoring the young guys and monitoring their development.

In a perfect world, his friends say, Brown would want to be in a position where he's running basketball operations, allowing him to participate in practice while leaving the hard official labor to others he trusts.

Brown's response: "I would have to say that's accurate."

Whether it makes sense is another story.

We also know Brown doesn't come cheap. The Pistons would testify to that after paying about $18 million for two years' work. So would the Knicks, who forfeited $28 million for a 23-59 record in one season. Although the Sixers got their money's worth from 1997 to 2003, it was at $6 million per season (with stock options and incentives), and in the better part of the last decade, the only coaches who have come close to pocketing cash equal to Brown's are Pat Riley, Phil Jackson and George Karl (paid $7 million per season in Milwaukee).

Brown always says it's never about the money, but when you're getting paid what he commands - at least once upon a time - it doesn't have to be. Yet, it will always be about responsibility.

After all that Brown has been through, combined with his age, 66, it's worth wondering whether he can weather the storm that accompanies a struggling franchise in desperate need of anything productive.

"I can handle a few things," Brown said. "Again, I'm not looking for anything. But when you've been around the game for as long as I have, you don't dismiss opportunities without hearing what people have to say. I've always listened because I never know what I'm going to hear. Plus, I've been around for a very long time and know a lot of people. So having someone to talk to is nothing new to me. It doesn't mean I'm going anywhere or I'm going to be doing anything different than helping [the Sixers] with this draft. It just means we don't know what the future holds."

Stay tuned.