It wasn’t anything Cavaliers acting General Manager David Griffin said about coach Mike Brown on Tuesday that made Brown’s return seem uncertain.

It was what Griffin didn’t say.

Twice during a 25-minute, wrap-up news conference, Griffin was asked specifically about Brown and the job he did during a 33-49 season. A third time the question was posed to Griffin whether he blamed the coach or the players for giving away games, especially late in the season.

Not once during those three chances did Griffin glowingly praise Brown.

On the first, Griffin said, “We’re all under review.” He didn’t even mention Brown’s name.

Later when asked to evaluate Brown, Griffin said, “Our coach and our coaching staff did a very good job.” Griffin pointed out the Cavs’ rise from 30th to 12th in defensive field-goal percentage and strides made offensively in the second half, when they were “better at moving bodies and the ball.”
But Griffin had already given a harsh analysis of the team, saying it wasn’t tough enough, smart enough or big enough and that it had to improve its shooting. More than once he mentioned the Cavs’ lack of “basketball IQ.”

On giving away games, Griffin didn’t absolve Brown, either.

“I put a lot on the fit of the group,” Griffin said. “I’d like to see us move in a direction where we improve our ability to make the right basketball decision at the right time. There is no isolated blame of any kind. It’s the collective. Right now, the collective isn’t working.”

Reading between the lines, it was enough to make those at Cleveland Clinic Courts wonder whether Mike Brown 2.0 will turn out any differently than Mike Brown 1.0. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert fired Brown after the 2010 season in a desperate attempt to persuade LeBron James to stay in free agency.