When Byron Scott took the Cleveland Cavaliers job in 2010 they didn’t know yet if LeBron James would stay or go — although he had to know “go” was a good possibility the way things had shaken out the season before.
Scott, a veteran coach with a hard-nosed style, was in charge of a rebuilding project. They were not going to win much. He was tasked with helping his team grow.
After three seasons he was let go on Thursday. Scott spoke to the Plain Dealer about the experience.
“I’m disappointed, more than anything,” Scott said in a telephone interview. “I don’t think I got a fair shake.”
“I’ll land on my feet,” he said.
He will. He’ll get another shot, he’s respected around the league.
What did Scott in was defense — the Cavaliers were 27th in the NBA in defensive efficiency this past season, they were 25th and 29th Scott’s two other seasons. To be fair, injuries like the one this season to Anderson Varejao impacted those numbers, but the Cavs never really improved on that end of the court. It’s hard to say that Scott was building a defensive culture there.
The question becomes: Is an old-school, long practice loving, grinding coach a good choice for a young team? Cavaliers players talked about being worn down at the end of the season. There was frustration in the locker room. Young teams need rules and boundaries, but they also need positive reinforcement and was there enough of that in Cleveland?
Cleveland is a job that could draw a name coach — they have a franchise anchor in Kyrie Irving, some nice role players and a lot of cap space. They are a team built to take big leaps in the next few years, meaning this is an important hire for them. All the next coach wants is a fair shot.