Byron Scott has been fired as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Following a 64-and-166 record the past three seasons, Scott has recently been under fire for losing the players in his locker room. He has apparently had a questionable relationship with star point guard Kyrie Irving, and reports of players lashing out at Scott had surfaced in the recent weeks.
Reports last week claimed that Scott would be fired following the final game of the season, a 105-to-98 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night. This firing will spark some debate as to whether this was the correct move. You can’t blame Scott for his record, as Chris Grant and company didn’t provide enough quality NBA talent. The team suffered crucial injuries throughout the season to key guys like Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao. It appears that the way he lost his team was the icing on the cake. The Cavaliers showed little effort, and tended to give up on games toward the end of the season, and with players anonymously bashing Scott, it was inevitable that a change was needed.
92.3 The Fan is a Cleveland sports radio network. Chris Fedor, an anchor for the station, disagrees with the firing:
I think many people saw this firing of Byron Scott coming. Not the point. The question is whether it was the right move. To me it was not
— Chris Fedor (@ChrisFedor) April 18, 2013
Grant addressed the media today following the fire, “I have tremendous respect for Byron professionally and a great deal of admiration for him personally. At the same time, it is critical for where we are as a team to ensure that we capitalize on every opportunity for development and success and we have fallen short of that on the court. I believe we needed to make this change in order to get to a better position to achieve our goals”.
The search for a replacement coach will now begin. There are a few different ways Dan Gilbert can go. Will he look to a proven coach such as Stan Van Gundy or Flip Saunders? Or will they give Mike Brown another shot? (In my opinion, Saunders and Brown will result in Kyrie Irving catching the first plane out of Cleveland. They should not go that route, but the names are getting thrown out, for some reason).
Or should the front office try for an assistant looking for his first opportunity? My two top choices would be Michael Malone and Brian Shaw. Malone is a current Golden State Warriors assistant who was an assistant during the Mike Brown era in Cleveland. He is a very solid X’s and O’s guy, and a very smart basketball coach.
Shaw is the top assistant for the Indiana Pacers under head coach Frank Vogel. Shaw interviewed for the position that Scott eventually won. He is arguably the top assistant in the league, and is strong on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Shaw is very well-respected by players around the league, and could help draw potential free agents to Cleveland.
Bottom line, the Cavaliers can’t afford to rush a hire. If the wrong move is made, it could delay this rebuild even more. We need to make the right hire, not the popular one. Look for Shaw and Malone to be the top candidates, and Chris Jent could get an opportunity as well, another ex-Cavs assistant. A former head coach currently off the sidelines could get a look as well.