Cavaliers Not Interested In Letting Byron Scott Interview For Lakers Job

In yesterday’s “While We’re Waiting”, Rick posted a link to an article by Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico in which he laid out the case for why current Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott would be a prime candidate for the Los Angeles Lakers’ likely vacant coaching seat. He also said something that probably made some Cavs fans uneasy, particular those fans who appreciate the work Coach Scott did last season. He said that Coach Scott would almost certainly be interested in the job.

Cleveland sometimes takes a lot of grief for the passion of its sports fans, but the sports fans in Cleveland mirror the spirit of the city. They cherish qualities such as loyalty, dedication, and hard work in ways that isn’t necessarily true in all places. As a result, Cleveland sports fans often feel that need their athletes to be just as loyal and dedicated to Cleveland as they are. Sometimes this is misplaced as inferiority complex, but that’s not really the whole truth. The fact of the matter is that Cleveland is just different from a lot of other big cities. Frequently the butt of jokes from the national media, the city has been cast in such an unflattering light nationally that it’s hard to really blame Cleveland fans for taking it all so personally.

So when I first read that there might be mutual interest between Coach Scott and the Lakers, my fear was that no matter what happened, some fans would turn on the coach. I was afraid that after already losing LeBron, and then Brian Windhorst, and now potentially Byron Scott, that it would feel like those in the business of basketball were avoiding Cleveland like the plague.

But lets not get too far ahead of ourselves. First of all, as Amico laid out in his article, it would be pretty unlikely that Byron Scott would actually end up as Phil Jackson’s successor. First, and foremost, Coach Scott is under contract with the Cavaliers and thus, the Cavs would have to grant permission for the Lakers to interview Scott. Secondly, because he’s under contract, the Lakers would have to give up compensation to the Cavaliers for letting Scott out of his contract. Now, unless said compensation is Andrew Bynum, the Cavs probably wouldn’t be receiving much of value in return, but why would the Lakers want to give up anything at all when there are perfectly suitable candidates available that the Lakers can freely sign?

Having said all that, nobody wants to have an employee who doesn’t want to be there. If the Lakers’ job is Coach Scott’s dream job, and the Lakers want to consider him, the Cavaliers would have to let him at least interview for it, right? Not necessarily, it turns out. According to the Plain Dealer’s Mary Schmitt Boyer, an NBA source has told her that the Cavaliers would indeed block any interview request from the Lakers:

Scott, who won three titles as a player with the Lakers, is under contract for three more years, and the team would not grant the Lakers permission to speak to him even if they asked, an NBA source said. The source said Scott does not have an “out” clause in his contract that would allow him to pursue the Lakers job.

When Jackson contemplated retirement last year, Scott’s name popped up as a potential replacement because of his close relationships with owner Jerry Buss and star Kobe Bryant. Scott acted as Bryant’s mentor in his rookie season, Scott’s last in the league.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I kind of want to say ‘good for the Cavaliers’. He’s your coach, you have him signed for 2 more seasons, and you want to see him finish the job he was hired to do. Yet, nobody wants a malcontent to be coach. If Byron Scott’s heart and mind isn’t 100% into the Cleveland Cavaliers, then why force him to stay? Why stand in the way of his dream job?

However, the main factor here is that Byron Scott knew that this Lakers job would likely be opening up after the 2011 season. People were surprised when Phil came back for this season, and it was all but a formality that this would be the final season in his legendary coaching career. Byron Scott knew all of this. If the Lakers job was the job he really wanted, then it was unfair to Cleveland for him to hedge his bet by taking the Cavaliers job as a fallback plan.

Perhaps he felt that he would always be an underdog to Brian Shaw, who is already sitting on the bench next to Phil Jackson as an assistant. Perhaps he felt that LeBron would be coming back and that the Cavaliers’ job would be a prime job. Or maybe, just maybe, any talk of his interest in the Lakers job is exaggerated.

We’ve yet to hear any comment from the coach himself or even from sources close to the coach that give any indication that he’s unhappy in Cleveland or that he would want to interview for the Lakers job. Now, in a vacuum, I’m sure Coach Scott would love to coach the Los Angeles Lakers. He grew up in Inglewood, played for the Lakers, and won 3 NBA Championships there. The purple and gold empire means a lot to him and I don’t think any of us should struggle to understand why he might be interested.

But I’m not ready to just assume that the interest is so strong that he’s going to cause problems with Cleveland if they don’t let him interview. Until we hear from him, everything else is just pure speculation. Besides, the chances of Byron Scott coaching the Lakers next season are somewhere in the 0.1% range. He had to know what he was doing when he signed on to coach the Cavaliers, and I for one am excited to see him continue this rebuilding job. Historically, his teams always show huge leaps in his 2nd season, so here’s to hoping for bigger and better things from Byron Scott as coach of the Cavaliers.

  • DocZeus

    I’d hope that Byron Scott would be professional enough to honor his contract that he signed with Cleveland to 100% of his abilities even if that meant missing out on his dream job.

    On the other hand, stuff like that rarely happens in professional sports so I wouldn’t be the slighest if the exact opposite happens.

  • christopher

    I for one was not upset that we lost Brian Windhorst.

    That guy loved the all you can eat buffett table more than he did reporting factual items on his meal ticket LeBron James.

  • oribiasi

    @ christopher — I know him through a friend and I have to disagree; he was given an amazing job offer that anyone would be a fool to turn down, to work to ESPN covering the Heat. He is a decent guy, is a genuine fan of Cleveland.

    I dislike LeBron strongly as well, but you have to know that he is heavily censored by ESPN and can’t reveal much now. Look for a book in a few years, once all this is over and LBJ is retired with the truth. It always comes out in the wash.

    But, don’t be silly and blame Windhorst for the sins of someone else.

  • Toeme Tripple

    Very unfair criticism of Windy. I agree with #3….we’d all take the same job. I can’t fault a guy for taking a career promotion.

  • Greg

    One twist – things were much different when Scott was hired. Although there were some bright spots near the end of the season, there was also a record setting losing streak in the middle, punctuated by spotty effort.

    If management feels like they can bring in a better fit for what is now a rebuilding project, then they should go ahead and let him interview for his “dream job”. To me that’s a win-win-win (don’t have to pay the rest of his contract, get some compensation from the Lakers, and get a better fit for the upcoming roster).

  • Andrew

    Everyone has different opinions and tastes, but I’m not sure how anyone read the coverage of the Cavaliers this season and didn’t seriously miss Windy’s writing. And that’s no disrespect to the likes of Mary Schmitt Boyer, Jason Lloyd, Sam Amico, or anyone else. It’s just that none of them are as good as Windy, but then again, almost nobody is.

  • Aaron

    I don’t really get all the coverage this is getting.

    It’s not like it was a secret that Phil Jackson was retiring. If Scott really wanted the position don’t you think he would have held out for a year?

  • Mark

    Thank you Aaron. My thoughts exactly.

  • Swig

    I am sad Windy is gone and upset that people from Cleveland have given him a hard time about it. That, more than anything, makes Cleveland fans look terrible and is completely indefensible.

  • Harv 21

    Windhorst was the best beat writer any Cleveland team has had, imo. Able to see the small details and the big picture, always prepared and thoughtful, and was able to convey all those things with a clear and enjoyable writing style.

    The price for his access to LeBron and the team was that he not blab everything he saw or rumor he heard. I thought he handled it all admirably. Regarding his move to ESPN, he was a relatively young guy working in a shrinking city at a shrinking paper. Not sure how you turn that job down. Good for him.

  • JM

    I don’t blame him for leaving but he constantly turns a blind eye and believes everything Lebron tells him, like his “apology” from last night.

  • mgbode

    as for Scott, the only thing I wouldn’t like about them denying an interview with the Lakers is that it could setup a negative tone for the future.

    perception can become reality and Gilbert already has a negative perception among some for his comic sans letter. denying a SoCal native an interview with the historical franchise he played and won championships with would play right into that negative narrative.

    now, we can demand more compensation than the Lakers would likely be willing to grant (think Gruden going to TB).

  • christopher

    my problem with Windhorst:

    the night the decision came down his first tweet basically stated wherever James ends up he will be right here next year reporting for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    then being offered a great deal he dumps the city and bolts as well.

    if i am going to fault #6 for saying that cleveland had the best chance of signing him, etc and then turning coat and leaving for greener pastures i fault Windhorst for the same behavior.

    didn’t mean to hijack the post and make it related to Windhorst.

    Just my opinion that being as close to the situation as he was he kept too many details to himself to ensure he would be able to cash in on James later in book deals, etc.

  • mgbode

    well, since this is a BW thread now…

    I wouldn’t have faulted BW for taking an ESPN gig if he was just taking a national NBA gig for them. However, following LeBron/Heat after what he had said in the past was just as bad as LeBron. Just because we better associate with a beat-writer than a someday-billionaire athlete, doesn’t make his behavior any better.

    my belief in BW is somewhat why I was able to mentally paint the picture that I had of LeBron. how much he cared about the city/fans, how much he wanted a championship brought to the Northcoast, etc. when the revelation that he buried a sitdown meeting with Riley/LeBron earlier in the season and then hopped on a plane to join LeBron in South Beach after explicitly saying he wouldn’t (both when a NY writer claimed ESPN had it pre-arranged for him to follow LeBron and even initially after the ESPN show where talents were taken southernly).

    the Adande piece showing ‘true LeBron’ in Vegas also was a chink in the armor for BW’s credibility. i have a hard time believing that he couldn’t write a similar piece in all his time covering LeBron. journalists jobs are supposed to be painting the picture of the truth, not a marketing job for those they cover.

    honestly, it’s sort of sad to read BW these days. he was always a gifted writer and able to pickup on little things and find out the reasons they happened on the court. but, ESPN has him as a Heat apologist and his writing is now no better than a guy like Broussard (who is okay, but BW is capable of much more).

    that’s my piece on it anyway.

  • humboldt

    @Christopher – I get the real politik of why Windhorst accepting a deserved promotion, but there is an almost parasitic quality to following Lebron to Miami and staking a career on the spectacle that has unfolded there, particularly when he stated he would stay in Cleveland. Ultimately, it’s not an issue that has any bearing on my life, other than the fact I miss his sports writing in Cleveland

  • sealedhuman

    I’m with Christopher on Windy. I don’t mind that he took the job, but I mind that he was hypocritical about it.

    I hope this report about the Cavs is false or exaggerated. I would like to think that the Cavs would let Byron interview if he was interested in the position.

  • GhostToMost

    Im sure Windhorst is a great guy and I dont blame him for taking that job with ESPN. Thats like refusing a callup to the big leagues from AAA. You guys are right he would have been a fool to turn that down.

    I was just hoping that he wouldnt turn into a LeBron stooge and it appears that he has. Remember Windhorst’s column about the Bosh, Wade and LeBron making plans as far back as the summer of 2008? He teased said there was MUCH more info to come. Whatever happened to the follow up? Most likely shut his mouth when LRMR got him his new gig at ESPN.

    Im sure he’s a great guy and everything, but I dont read his stuff anymore (this morning being an exception). He’s lost a lot of credibility with me.

  • Harv 21

    Re a Byron interview in LA, I will be in the minority here.

    He interviewed for this job knowing it might not include LeBron. He demanded a multiyear commitment knowing the LA job would come open. Then he committed the team to his Princeton offense while the FO presumably has spent significant energy, hours and resources identifying college and pro players who might fit his schemes. The owner has to set a tone: I’m all in and if you’re here, you’re all in too. It can even send the wrong message to players like JJ, who better believe they will have to please him. Can’t think of a single good reason as to why it is in the Cavs best interests to let him interview there.

  • christopher

    yeah, i really didnt mean to hijack the post….sorry.

    in regards to Byron; i’m with Harv. NO WAY i allow the Lakers to interview Scott and if catch a hint that he might be disgruntled about it i demand HIGH RETURN for him. I am talking Bynum or Gasol.

    for those that say you can’t keep him because he might poison the team next year i get that. on the other hand we have all seen how vindictive Gilbert is and in no way a pushover. i have little doubt Gilbert wouldnt start the season with Scott (after the Lakers have hired their coach) and sensing Scott wanted out…fire him. sure he pays off his contract but what does Gilbert care.

    plus the bonus is that we have an interim coach for 2011/2012 (if it happens) another losing record and a higher draft pick to infuse more young talent.

    on the brighter side of the coin….i have a feeling Scott comes out publicly soon and states that he will have a lifelong tie to the Lakers but he has made a commitment to the city and players of the Cleveland Cavaliers and he is proud to meet that commitment.