There was some belief that the Cavaliers might have made a mistake by not having a replacement ready when they fired Mike Brown. Well, in many ways, they did have their replacement lined up. It was supposed to be Tom Izzo. However, once Izzo turned the job down, the Cavaliers were stuck back at square one.
It appeared for a while that Byron Scott was the front runner and would likely be the next guy offered the Cavs job. When rumors of Phil Jackson pondering retirement began to spring up, though, things were once again brought to a halt as two of the Cavs’ candidates, Byron Scott and Brian Shaw, were also candidates to be Phil’s replacement.
This is pretty much the story of how the Cavs’ offseason has gone. The whole thing has been one massive tangled web. Did the Cavs fire Mike Brown to appease LeBron? Did LeBron want Ferry gone or did Ferry not want to come because he didn’t want to hire the coach LeBron wanted? Did Izzo turn down the Cavs because LeBron wouldn’t talk to him? If LeBron didn’t talk to Izzo, does that mean LeBron is leaving? Chicago is the front runner? Miami is? LeBron met in Miami with Bosh and Wade this weekend? LeBron wasn’t in Miami? Wade wasn’t in Miami? The Cavs have the edge to keep LeBron? This stuff is enough to make slamming your head on your desk seem not only preferable, but logical.
Mercifully, things appear to be getting close to resolution, at least on the coaching front. After interviewing with the Cavaliers on Monday, it appears that Brian Shaw is not only the favorite of the Cavaliers, but according to Fanhouse, Shaw is close to finalizing a deal to become the next coach of the Cavaliers.
In that previously mentioned Fanhouse article, Scott’s agent had some not so flattering things to say about the Cavaliers:
Had an offer been made to Scott, the Cavs would have received an answer within a day. Without assurances that James would return to Cleveland, he likely would have turned down the job.
“We assumed that due a week of miscommunications with the organization, which continually required on the record correcting, Chris Grant was aware of our disappointment in media driven coaching search. As a week of ‘corrected’ media reports from ‘our camp’ indicated, we did not appreciate Cavalier executives going ‘off the record’ and creating incorrect news with writers, or at least as was repeatedly told to us by those journalists,” Scott’s agent, Brian McInerney, wrote FanHouse.
“There was no offer or contract to withdraw, so issuing a statement that one was being withdrawn only gave credence to a fictional story. There was no reason to speak to LaBron (sic) James since there was nothing to discuss.”
Scott said he has not been offered the job, and it’s his understanding the Cavs hope to make a decision by Thursday’s start of free agency.
“I’m not sitting and waiting on Phil Jackson,” Scott said. “That ain’t me. I’m not waiting on anybody.”
Scott is hopeful James will return to the Cavaliers. He hasn’t spoken directly to James, but has talked to people in his camp, who say there’s a “50-50” chance James re-signs with Cleveland.
“He’s a loyal guy,” Scott said. “He wants to win.”
Without James, the Cavaliers would instantly transform from a title contending team to a rebuilding franchise. Scott isn’t fearful of that possibility because he’s been in similar situations coaching the New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets.
“I would coach there without LeBron,” Scott said. “But they got a good shot at getting him back. Without him, they would probably go from 60 wins to 30 wins. But [without James], it’s still a better job than when I first started in New Jersey, and it’s still a better job than when I first started in New Orleans.”
So which one is the truth? Is his agent just expressing sour grapes because Shaw appears headed toward landing the job, or is it really true that Scott was trying to put pressure on the Lakers by keeping his name in the press? Now that a few places have published reports that Scott’s interest in the Cavaliers was as much posturing as anything else, perhaps his agent is trying to soften the perception.
Whatever the case may be, the good news for the Cavaliers is that they identified the guy they wanted after Tom Izzo, and it appears that he is poised to become the next head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The obvious question then is, what can we expect from Shaw? He was a highly respected NBA player who meets the ‘former player who can bring some credibility to the coaching position’ qualification. Having served under Phil Jackson, he brings a certain pedigree and tutelage to the Cavs. He’s seen how the greatest coach in NBA history (sorry Red) operates and he has plenty of learning experiences to lean on as he makes the adjustment to being a head coach.
As for X’s and O’s, we just won’t know until we see the team in action. Will he bring the triangle to the Cavaliers regardless of personnel, or will he try to adapt his system to what the Cavs have to offer? What kind of defensive principles will he install on the team? Will we see more help and double teams as opposed to complex rotations we saw under Mike Brown? Perhaps. But any of that would be pure speculation for right now.
Once we know what the Cavs roster looks like and once we know for sure that Brian Shaw is indeed the head coach we can then break down all those topics. For now, we’ll keep an eye on the story and try to update everyone as official word comes in.
UPDATE: In the time since this article was written, Brian Windhorst has updated his Twitter account to reflect that the Cavs will not hire a coach today, are not working on a contract with anyone, and have not offered the job to anyone. At this point, I don’t know what to make of this story. It’s changing literally every half hour, so we will continue to update as needed.