In an interesting move that could be brilliant or backfire horribly, the Cleveland Cavaliers are hiring Lakers assistant Brian Shaw as their head coach.
The reports are conflicting. Shaw is the man and a deal is being finalized according to a report from Sam Amick at FanHouse. However, the well-connected Brian Windhorst says that no formal offer has been made and that the two sides are “not close.” Windhorst does say that Shaw is the clear frontrunner.
Usually how these things go is that the two sides unofficially negotiate a deal then later a formal offer is extended. You can decide for yourself where on that scale the talks are.
Shaw has been on the Lakers bench for the past five years and has been the lead assistant to Phil Jackson this year after Kurt Rambis left for Minnesota. Shaw would have been a lead candidate for the Lakers job if Phil Jackson decides to leave. Shaw was among those who during the playoffs said he does not expect Jackson to leave.
If Jackson does leave, former Laker Byron Scott — who Shaw beat out for the Cleveland job — would now be the leading candidate. Nobody would be shocked if Scott is calling Jackson right now to talk about how much those long February road trips to Toronto and Detroit suck. “You’re too old for that, Phil.”
Bringing in Shaw and the triangle offense is a gamble by the Cavaliers in the LeBron sweepstakes. It is possible that LeBron is intrigued by the offense that won Kobe and MJ 11 titles between them. It requires a balance and passing that LeBron would fit into well.
But Shaw has never been a head coach — does LeBron want that risk? (Same is true of Tom Thibodeau in Chicago.) And to build a team that will win with the triangle means shaking up of the Cavaliers roster to get the right role players that could take a few years. Shaw may not mean instant titles.
It’s a gamble, but right now the Cavaliers and owner Dan Gilbert may feel they need to gamble.