April 20, 2014

Is Byron Scott Heading Down The Manny Acta Path?

Full disclosure, I am not an NBA guy. I often use the hashtag #NBAFree on twitter when discussing my love for the college game. I hope the Cavaliers do well, but I can’t say that I watch the games or intently read the articles the way I do with the Browns and the Indians. I simply see the tweets throughout the day, check out the boxscores, and move on. But I stayed informed.

Last night as I was locked into the highly entertaining ESPN doubleheader featuring N.C. State/Michigan and North Carolina/Indiana on ESPN, I continued to see the scroll at the bottom showing the Cavs/Suns score. 37-32 Suns at the half? I feel for the people who sat through that half. In the end, the undermanned Wine & Gold lost to Phoenix 91-78 at home. This is a team that starts Goran Dragic and Shannon Brown in the backcourt, Marcin Gortat in the middle, with (Kansas’s own) Markieff Morris and the stoner extraordinaire Michael Beasley at the forward spots.

In other words, the Western Conference version of the Cavs. Sure, the Suns bring Luis Scola and Jared Dudley off the bench, but the rest of their crew is not exactly a group of Vinnie Johnson’s.

Before you jump all over me, I know Kyrie Irving is missing with a finger injury and that completely changes the dynamic of the team. But even with Kyrie, what is the team’s ceiling in 2012-13? 25-30 wins? After last night, the Cavaliers are now 3-12. Yes, they have been in a lot of games, but this business is about wins and losses. I get that the Cavs are young and rebuilding around Kyrie, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller, and Anderson Varejao, but other than the guys I just mentioned, Alonzo Gee and Boobie Gibson, the roster is littered with trash.

Maybe Chris Grant is smarter than we think. I have long been of the opinion that another bottom feeding season and a top three pick is what this team needs for the future. The roster certainly has that look of one that will get the Cavs in that position again. The Kyrie injury is only going to enhance that. Hitting on that top three pick is a must. Want to know how Oklahoma City went from laughing stock to NBA Finalist? Three consecutive years they drafted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. They also hit on Serge Ibaka as a late first round pick in 2008.

That is the Cavs model.

Year one was Irving (all star) and Thompson (should be a 12-10 guy). Year two brought Waiters (Could be the Cavs version of Harden) and Zeller (think OKC’s Nick Collison). We will see what year three will bring.

In the meantime, the record still reeks. 3-12 seems to be getting glossed over here in Cleveland. Probably because our city’s sports franchises are collectively as bad as they have ever been. You’d like to see improvement at least and a steady build towards respectability. Owner Dan Gilbert and GM Chris Grant have preached patience, which we all need to have. But how patient is Gilbert going to be with head coach Byron Scott if the Cavs continue this cycle of losing?

Again, I am no Cavs expert, and I can only go by what I read on this site and Twitter and what my people in the know tell me. But I look at Scott’s situation as very much like the one we just saw going down with our baseball team.

If you have read my stuff, you know I was a staunch defender of now ex-Indians manager Manny Acta. I also didn’t know what was going on inside the clubhouse and that it seems as though the guy we saw in front of the cameras – the master communicator – was in fact the complete opposite with his players. But while the last two seasons were going on, I marveled at the fact that Acta had his team actually playing over .500 baseball as long as they did with the complete lack of quality starting pitching, no left fielder, no first baseman, and no third baseman.

Then the bottom fell out. Acta’s Indians lost 11 in a row and 22 of 27 and looked like a beaten group who were ready to pack it in. Even I couldn’t defend Manny any longer. He was fired with less than a week remaining in the season. You have to wonder if the Cavs go into an Indians-esque swoon (they are currently in one, but its still very early), continue to play porous defense, and tune out Scott the way they did at the end of last season, will Gilbert stay the course and keep Byron for year four, despite a horrific on the court record? Or will he see a stable of unemployed former head coaches like Stan Van Gundy, Jerry Sloan, Clevelander Flip Saunders, and Mike Brown (that’s a joke people, relax) and highly regarded assistants like Michael Malone or Brian Shaw and opt to dump Scott?

Our own Andrew, who is as dialed into the Cavs as anyone, has been one to question if Scott is the right guy for this job long term. Going back to last April,where the Wine and Gold were in full tank mode, he was very concerned:

 This franchise deserves better than what we got last night. If players want to roll over and die, they can do so for another franchise. We should all wants players on our team who are going to go out, give us their best, and at least show some competitiveness. We should want a coach who can get more out of his players than what we have seen in so many uninspired, pathetic performances this season.

Speaking of coaching, I asked the question on Twitter last night whether any coach has ever lost 4 games by 35+ points in a single season and kept his job. I don’t know the answer, but I seriously doubt Coach Scott is going anywhere. And you know what? For everything he and this franchise has gone through in two years, he deserves a shot to develop Kyrie, Tristan, and whoever we draft this year. But his grace period is over. Enough is enough. I want to see some evidence that he can get through to this team. If this is a time for development, we need to see some signs that the coach is developing the young players on this team.”

In Byron’s defense, like Acta, look at what he has been given to work with. As I said earlier, he has essentially a seven-man team and now has no Irving. When you are given C.J. Miles as your top perimeter bench player, that’s the equivalent to signing Casey Kotchman to be your first baseman.

I never thought Acta would be the fall guy until it went down. Then when the smoke cleared, you could see it was the right decision. You could easily envision the same thing happening with Scott.

The Cavaliers as a franchise are extremely fan friendly, great marketers, terrific in the community, and do everything they can to enhance the in-arena experience, but the product on the court continues to lag behind. At some point, someone will have to be responsible.

Will Scott end up with the same fate as his ex-Indians counterpart?

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • MrCleaveland

    No one can defeat The Curse. Not Byron, not Manny, not Tito, not Holmgren, not Haslam, not nobody.

    Accept this, and find happiness down other paths. Like OSU football. We’re back, baby!

  • bridgecrosser

    NBA is a player’s league. An NBA coach has to (1) make sure his top players buy into a system and recognize their roles, (2) has to manage the game via substitution patterns, playing time and inserting set plays when appropriate and (3) adapt to deficiencies through the year while ensuring overall effort doesn’t wain. If Scott does this, he shouldn’t worry about his future. (Acta failed terribly on point 3 along).

    This is a young team has some significant holes in scoring and depth. If some people foolishly thought we were a playoff team and then only winning 25 games is a disappointment, well that’s on them.

    Chris Grant has a lot more to worry about IMO. TT over Jonas V. and Waiters over Barnes will be his legacy as those play out.

  • mgbode

    we won 21 games in a 66game season. so, yes, winning 25 games this year qualifies as a disappointment. now, injuries very well could cause that to happen, but it is still disappointing if it comes to cross.

  • boomhauertjs

    I’ll wait to reserve judgment on Byron until Kyrie is back. If Byron’s out, I’d love to see Stan Van Gundy. It’s not saying much, but he coached the pants off of Mike Brown in the 2009 playoffs. Then he got the Magic into the playoffs last year without Duh-wight.

  • Luke Stavole

    I had a long conversation about this last night with my dad. We basically said the same thing. We need a top pick in the lottery this year, so I’m fine with finishing in the bottom of the league again this year. Next year however, I think it is VERY reasonable for this team to be a playoff team, and a solid one at that. If Scott doesn’t succeed at that next year, I think it is time to move on.

    In a somewhat related note, I feel the same about the Browns. We’ve showed a lot of progress this year. Next year, its time to take the next big step, and be a playoff team.

  • mgbode

    highly entertaining double-header? man, none of the Big10 v. ACC games have been watchable thus far. I guess NCState v. Mich, but I cannot cheer for that blue team and I want the Big10 to win the ‘challenge’. The other 5 games last night were all blowouts (along with, sadly, the Cavs v. PHX game).

    as for Byron, we won’t know about him until he gets everybody healthy and has enough depth to round out his rotations. he might not last until that happens. he had to know this could be the case when he signed on for the job though. the guy who gets to build the extremely young team is often not the same guy that gets to steer the ship once they are matured (though he may have thought he was going to have another player on the team at that time).

    —————————————-

    if we were to replace Byron after the season, then my search would start and stop with one man: Nate McMillan

  • timmycouch

    I’m biased because I’m a huge Byron Scott fan, but at the current moment no way do i hold him accountable for the w-l record. Obviously Kyrie is injured and that becomes extremely clear as we continue to blow 4th quarter leads.

    Something that I think gets severely overlooked is not having Ramon Sessions
    or Antawn Jamison. Those were two main sources of offensive production. It is clear management wasn’t looking to win this year considering they didn’t replace either of these guys or their production on the roster. Which considering you have to completely tank in the NBA to get better, im fine with.

  • Harv 21

    Byron has proven himself an able coach elsewhere, and no doubt the current available players are in various stages of totally green, trying to develop a game or fringe players, but I have been concerned about player effort since 2010. Not sure what’s going on when the team has stretches where guys who should absolutely be worried about starting roles and even roster spots go through stretches of taking nights off.

    Here’s what we know for sure: nothing. The press paints guys a certain way, depending on what it is permitted to see or past history or even how a guy speaks to them. Press says players respect Byron’s rings but that may be a pre-written angled story. These young guys (unlike Byron’s past players like Jason Kidd) are a decade too young to have watched Byron and may be rolling their eyes and just giving happy-quotes when asked.

    We all want Byron to be the guy, but this is outcome determinative. A good coach will make the team as good as or somewhat better than the sum of its parts. With more high draft picks the roster will soon at least be enough for a mediocre team and Byron will face the music.

  • eldaveablo

    I really like Byron’s demeanor, what he says, and his professionalism. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in his results, and watching the game last night is when I am starting to officially worry about him. I understand the injuries and youth, but since day one he has preached the Princeton offense and tough defense.

    Defensively this team is terrible – by any measure – and this is with Andy who is a defensive force. Kyrie has made no commitment to defense, TT still has no idea how to rotate, and the amount of open drives to the basket by average players is embarrassing (this was really bad last night).

    Offensively, this team takes so many bad shots I have to divert my eyes. They are off balance, they are forced, and when our players drive to the hole they don’t do a good enough job of drawing fouls. This year that may not be a bad thing, because we shoot free throws so poorly most nights. Kyrie & Dion do a good job of compensating with pure ability, but sometimes I am convinced that the Cavs’ best offensive “play” is to miss a shot so that Andy/TT can get the put-back.

    I think this team (when healthy) has talent – as seen in the Clips win, but the maddening inconsistency and lack of offensive polish at this point in Byron’s stint with the Cavs is getting to be concerning. To clarify, I want him for the rest of the year and next (unless something completely absurd happens), but I’m really starting to question what Byron has accomplished at this point. I don’t see much defense being played and I don’t see much of an effective offensive system.

    The idea of Jerry Sloan is intriguing, but I don’t know if he could co-exist with Dion. Stan Van is an interesting guy too.

  • deesh

    “In other words, the Western Conference version of the Cavs.”

    Yeah… except not at all. I know you said you don’t follow basketball, but Phoenix’s starting line up is far better than the Cavs (minus Kyrie). They’re not a bunch of big names, but they’re still a group of solid players.

  • porckchopexpress

    No offense but if you considered the Big10/Acc games last night “highly entertaining” then I don’t want you Tivoing for me anytime soon. I watched the Cavs and the two Big10/Acc games (Mich and Indiana) Burke and Hardaway are fun to watch but the overall game looked like early season basketball. I like seeing a big 10 team throttle NC, but highly entertained I wasn’t.

    I couldn’t possibly disagree more with your idea that the Cavs “tuned out” Byron Scott last year. That team at varying times had 5 d-league players on the court at one time (Hudson, Sloan, Gee, Samardo, Harangody). I have no idea what your expectations are for a coach, but when I see him role out the Canton Charge starting lineup, and they get beat by 30 my first instinct is to blame the talent not his motivational skills. I just don’t see the comparision between the two, Acta had a team that was at least talented enough to have the best record in the majors nearly a 1 3rd of the way through the season, and he did it 2 xs. Both of the last two teams at least had a chance at the end of July. This Cavs roster at no time has had the talent to be that competitive.

    In addition it is clear that Shapiro/Antonetti did not have the same respect for Acta as Grant has for Scott. The Indians front office apparently took little imput from Acta and even seemed to have “forced” him into playing rotations and position players he may not have wanted to. No such dynamic exists with the Cavs.

    Point being I get the overall idea you are going for, but I feel like the situations are far too different to really draw a solid comparision.

  • MrCleaveland

    Ahem. “Past history” is redundant.

    Two demerits.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    That same lineup of D-League players played competitively against some good opponents. What TD is referring to is the stretch of the season when they suddenly gave up and were getting blown out by 20 points in the first quarter night in and night out. There was a real problem last year. To his credit, Byron did get it fixed and the team finished with strong efforts again for the last two weeks.

    The point is, those games where this team competed proves what they were capable of. Losing by 35+ points four times in a 66 game season is unacceptable and it speaks to effort, not quality of talent.

    Having said all that, I think Byron’s job is and should be safe through next season. But sooner or later this team has to take some steps forward. Let’s be honest, this team wasn’t winning games even with Kyrie, so at some point that has to change.

  • humboldt

    Clairvoyants everywhere shake their heads at your statement

  • Harv 21

    So is “ahem.”

    call it a wash?

  • MrCleaveland

    Not to mention Marty and Doc Brown.

  • MrCleaveland

    I thought “ahem” was passe.

  • ThatAlex

    Completely agree. Next year, barring freak injury…this team needs to be a playoff team, otherwise keeping the coach will be a pretty hard sell.

  • mgbode

    what’s considered a “freak” injury at this point though? Irving, AV, Gibson, etc. have all had pretty extensive injury histories at this point.

  • woofersus

    There are a couple of things to keep in perspective. First, the Cavs were missing both Irving AND Gibson last night, so one of their most effective bench players and an important defensive asset was also missing. Second, Dion Waiters, as promising as he is, is 15 games into his NBA career. So is Tyler Zeller at a position that tends to take some time to learn, and he’s playing significant minutes as well. It’s true there’s more overall talent and long term upside on this team than last year’s, but having lapses of effort and failing to close out close games are common symptoms of a young, inexperienced team. Nevermind the fact that the Cavs were playing their fourth game in five nights and prior to that they had gone toe to toe with some very good teams, or that 9 of those 12 losses have been on the road.

    3-12 is never just ok, but we aren’t the Lakers, brimming with former MVP’s and championship expectations. If the Cavs wanted to make a run this year they wouldn’t have settled for Pargo and Miles in the offseason. They wouldn’t have held off on making the big trade either, when they could have probably dumped some unwanted salary and gotten a better player in return for some of their picks if they thought they could contend right away. It’s a bit premature to start saying maybe the coach is to blame for the record.

    Last year’s slide was not the equivalent to what happened to the Tribe. There’s not really a big prize for tanking in baseball. Once Varejao and Gibson were gone, and then Irving was out for a few weeks on a team with little depth, all hope of making the playoffs disappeared and the race to the bottom was on. It’s no that coach Scott didn’t want those guys to try, but they weren’t trying to put the best team on the floor that they could either. They were trying out D-league guys while letting their best players take the long route back from injury.

    This year the team is a little more talented I think, but there’s still no depth, and now the team is even younger. Waiters and Zeller are rookies. Kyrie, TT, Sloan, and Leuer are all 2nd year players. Pargo, Casspi, and Gee bounced around the D-league and international leagues, and are technically in years 2, 3, and 3, but it’s only the 2nd full year in the actual NBA for any of them. After Varejao and Walton, CJ Miles and Boobie Gibson are the elder statesmen on this team. Nobody should be shocked that this group is having trouble closing out games. They probably do need at least one more piece (assuming both Waiters and Zeller pan out) and some depth, (which will partly come from that new starter pushing somebody to the bench) but the number one thing this team needs is experience. Byron Scott is not the problem.

  • porckchopexpress

    We will have to agree to disagree as to what sort of effort a coach can reasonably be expected to cajole out of a group of castoffs and D-Leaguers like last years Cavs.

    You say that the games where they competed proved what they were capable of, and that the blowouts were proof of lack of effort. I couldn’t agree more. The only difference is that you seem to think (sorry for inferring) that a coach can somehow make them maintain the effor from the good games. I say that there is a reason they are D-Leaguers and that is beause they are lacking the mental strength to give that sort of effort on a regular night. If you don’t go watch some Charge game. You’l see guys go for 25 points three nights in a row,and then simply coast off into no mans land for a week. Its who they are,yes at times they can play with the Heat, and at other times they coud be beaten by a college team.

    And Im sorrybut that roster regardless of how they performed in individualgames was the essence of lacking “quality talent”. When the battle cry for a team is “Wait till Anthoy Parker gets back!” you know someing bad is happening. Sloan, Hudson, Harangody, Harris, Hollins, etc. Did you know that there were only “4!!!!” guys on last years team that were drafted in the 1st round? And that two of them were rookies? And a third was 33 years old? And the fourth was Omri freakin Casspi? I’m sorry I have no idea how you can possibly say there was any actual talent on that team, the only guys back had contracts that forced the team to take them. Just one of the most awful collections of people allowed to call themselves NBA player.

  • CavsSuperFan

    You don’t watch the games… should anyone really have to tell you how dumb it is to write an article about the team?

  • Dave

    Actually, there’s an argument that losing Jamison was the best thing that happened to the team offensively. That’s because Jamison liked to toss up bad shots. So he scored a lot, but he also lost the ball a lot.

  • thenoclist

    I’m tired of hearing about the TT/JV situation. JV didn’t want to play here. He wanted to be in Toronto with it’s European culture and vibe. Had the Cavs drafted him, who knows how long he would have taken to come over? The only real arguments to be had are TT vs Leonard, TT vs Klay Thompson or TT vs Faried. And that’s only in hindsight as those guys were all drafted outside of the top ten. If the 4th pick in a very weak draft class doesn’t become an all star, that’s an indictement on the qualify of players available, not the decision making of the GM.

  • Yup

    Whoa! Where do you get off bringing some level-headed analysis of TT and Grant to this comment section? Anymore of that reasonable stuff will get you banned, mister!

  • Lamar

    You should just shut up since you admit you don’t know much about the Cavs. There roster isn’t littered with trash dumbass. We have young developing talent.

  • Ardeshir Lashkary

    Byron Scott should not be blamed for the UTTER and TOTAL incompetence of Chris Grant. This man should be run out of town for the series of disastrous decision he has made since he has risen (Peter principal) to the GM position in the Cavs organization.

  • Ardeshir Lashkary

    Thanks for omitting my remarks because it offended your friend. Don’t be afraid of the truth it shall set you free.

  • Ardeshir Lashkary

    Byron Scott should not be blamed for the total incompetence of one Chris Grant that has since risen to his level of Peter Principal in the Cavs organization.