When Mike Brown was fired over a little over a month ago, I listed Tom Thibodeau, Larry Brown and Avery Johnson as the three coaches the Cavaliers should pursue for their head coaching vacancy. Now, Thibodeau is with the Bulls, Johnson is with the Nets, and Larry Brown — still under contract with the Bobcats — has not pushed to be released in order to pursue other opportunities like many thought he would.
Since the vacancy, the Cleveland position has become a give-and-take. Coaches have wanted at least some indication that LeBron will be returning to Cleveland next year, but because it’s impossible for the team to ensure that, coaches such as Tom Izzo have been turning down large sums of money rather than take the risk. Cleveland, on the other hand, has been caught between trying to secure the best coach for the franchise with or without the guarantee of LeBron’s return and securing a coach that LeBron would want to play for.
LeBron is reportedly interested in a coach that has played in the NBA before (even though Izzo would have been a draw and Thibodeau still is in Chicago), so it makes sense that the Cavaliers’ coaching search ultimately came down to Byron Scott and Brian Shaw.
Interestingly, both Scott and Shaw, while interested in the Cavaliers job, were angling for the Lakers head coaching gig with Phil Jackson considering retirement. Shaw remains in this position but with reports that Jackson is leaning towards returning, the decision to take over as the Cavs’ head coach only became easier for Scott.
As Scott led the New Jersey Nets to two Finals appearances in ’02 and ’03 and later won Coach of the Year with the ’07-08 Hornets, his pedigree is unquestionable. Jason Kidd has openly vouched for Scott, and he shares a close relationship with Chris Paul. This could only attract LeBron.
And if LeBron doesn’t return? Scott will undoubtedly be content with the amount of money owner Dan Gilbert is throwing his way; it will most likely be of equal or slightly lesser value than the five-year, $30 million that Izzo was offered. If the Cavaliers come up short in retaining LeBron, Scott cannot be at fault for the record of the mediocre team that remains.
Of course, we are all awaiting the King’s decision, but no matter what he decides, the Cavaliers have secured the best viable head coaching prospect left on the market, and Scott has entered into a low-risk/high-reward agreement to return as an NBA head coach.
What do you think? Is Byron Scott the right hire?