DETROIT (AP) – Larry Brown is out as coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Brown and the Pistons reached a settlement Tuesday on the final three years of his contract, Pistons spokesman Matt Dobek said. He is now free to coach another team next season, said Dobek, who declined to provide further details.

Asked if the team had fired Brown, Dobek replied: “Say what you want.”

The team didn’t want the Hall of Fame coach back and had offered a payoff, Brown’s agent, Joe Glass, said Tuesday.

“I take umbrage with the Pistons, or sources, saying it’s a buyout,” Glass said Tuesday morning before the announcement. “A buyout encompasses a mutual agreement, and that’s not what is happening. Larry Brown is saying, I want to coach the Pistons,’ and they want to pay him off for whatever reason.”

Before the Pistons said Monday that they were negotiating a buyout, they had said they would welcome Brown back if he was willing to return.

“Until this week, I can’t remember a time that I read Joe Dumars not categorically state that Larry Brown is our coach,” Glass said. “The Pistons can try to change the facts, but you can’t change history.

“When did this all break down? My best guess is months ago.”

Two years ago, Detroit signed Brown to a five-year contract worth about $25 million, plus incentive bonuses. He guided the Pistons to the NBA championship in 2004 and came one victory away from repeating this year.

Throughout the season, Brown insisted he would return if doctors deemed him healthy enough, and said he wouldn’t lead another NBA team from the sideline. Still, there have been reports that the New York Knicks will not hire a new coach until they know for sure that Brown is unavailable.

During the regular season, reports linked Brown to jobs in New York, Los Angeles and Denver.

The Cleveland Cavaliers talked with Brown about becoming their president of basketball operations after Detroit gave them permission during the spring. Cleveland hired Danny Ferry as general manager last month, and he has been assured that Brown will not be his boss.

Brown is the only coach with NBA and NCAA championships, winning a title with the Pistons last year and one with Kansas in 1988.

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