Byron Scott fired as coach of Cleveland Cavaliers

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This had been a hot rumor the final weeks of the season, and now apparently it has come to pass.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have fired Byron Scott as coach, reports the well-connected Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (since confirmed by multiple sources).

Owner Dan Gilbert has been unhappy with the Cavs’ lack of defensive improvement over the past three years, one team source said, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation, and Gilbert was the driving force behind the firing.

The 24-58 Cavaliers were 27th in the NBA in defensive efficiency this season, giving up 106.9 points per 100 possessions (via the NBA’s official statistics). They were 26th in the NBA the season before that and 29th in Scott’s first season.

While nobody expected Scott to win with this roster, there were questions about whether Scott’s hard-driving style — first learned playing as a pro under Pat Riley — was a good fit with the young Cavaliers team. Players talked about feeling worn down. Let’s say the Cavaliers atmosphere was not a positive one.

The Cavaliers looked like they had thrown in the towel the final weeks of the season, and that included star Kyrie Irving. That would be the same Irving who didn’t exactly run to his coach’s defense recently but seemed disappointed on Thursday when it went down.

This is a very tempting job for potential coaches — they have a young superstar in Irving, some good young rotation players such as Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters, and they have a whole lot of cap space to lure talent. This is a team poised to make a leap under the right leadership.