Byron Scott compiled a record of 64-166 during his tenure as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
That mark, for some perspective, is only a 2-14 slide away—during the lockout-shortened season of 2011-12, perhaps—from matching the 66-180 record the Cavs totaled from 1981-83 under the ownership of Ted Stepien.
Scott also set an NBA record with 26 consecutive losses in 2011 and saw his winning percentage decline from .318 to .293 in his third year on the Cavaliers' sidelines.
With all that in mind, however—along with the personal grudge I somewhat hold against Scott for helping to run my guys Christian Eyenga and Samardo Samuels out of the league—I still woke up on Thursday morning unsure if firing Byron was actually the best move to make.
Dan Gilbert and his brain trust elected to make that move regardless, though, and the search for a new head coach is now underway.
But before I can engage in discussions about Mike Malone, Brian Shaw, Mike Brown (?!?!?) or whoever else, I need to first talk about the many layers of this decision that left me conflicted throughout the day.
1. If Kyrie Irving didn't want Byron Scott fired, why do it?
My thought process during the month of April went like this: the only way Byron Scott would / could / should be fired is if Kyrie Irving wanted him gone.
As I watched Irving turn in the worst month of his NBA career while his "Basketball Father" sat scorching on the hot seat, I started to think that maybe he was cool with a new voice inside the huddle.
Not necessarily calling for Byron to lose his job, mind you, but okay if the ax came down.
After standing three feet away from Kyrie while he addressed the media at Cleveland Clinic Courts, though, the kid looked to me like someone had just shot his dog.
"I feel like I lost a part of myself," he said, as depressed as I've ever seen him.
So while I walked into the presser thinking that maybe Irving did want Scott out, I left completely convinced of the opposite.
Nobody is that good of an actor, not even the guy who plays Uncle Drew.
2. Is firing Scott, then, in some ways, a move towards the type of organizational control the Cavaliers lacked during the LeBron James Era?
I suppose we can only surmise that it is, then, if the decision came down in contrast with what your superstar wanted.
Irving, in my humble opinion, did not want Scott to be fired.
Tristan Thompson certainly didn't and I'd imagine Dion Waiters didn't either after Scott was as vocal as he was in his desire to spend the fourth overall pick on a sixth man from Syracuse.
Those three aside, who's left?
The only other people who matter, or are even involved in the rebuilding effort specifically, are the general manager and owner.
The ultimate group who then decided to act in the best interest of the organization even if that interest conflicted with the desires of your franchise player?
Is that the narrative?
3. Regardless, why am I even questioning the idea of firing a coach who just lost nearly as much as the late Ted Stepien?
My real problem here, I've decided, is that I completely bought into "The Process" so much that I became numb to the losing.
I covered every home game during the losing streak of 2010-11 and essentially cried uncle before setting my sights on the 2013-14 campaign exclusively.
A season, they said, when the organizational goal would inevitably shift to the desire to win now, and away from tanking towards draft picks and lottery balls.
That process involved extending Byron Scott's contract as recently as this year too, they said.
So if I can just watch that defense with my hands over my eyes a little bit longer, I thought, everything will be okay by next season.
That's when the owner's re-dedicated desire to win would trickle down to the general manager, then to the coaches and eventually the players.
That culture of winning would again be created and a season filled with talk of No. 6 and No. 7 seeds would ensue as a result while the Cavaliers fought for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.
4. But maybe that wasn't going to happen anyway, I guess.
I would have liked for the Cavaliers to believe in their process enough to see it through to completion.
By completion I mean allow Scott to Coach Irving in year three of his young NBA career and see what happens from there.
Despite that, I drove back down the road to work after the Irving presser thinking that maybe they'd have just lost next year too.
Maybe a fresh start now is better than a fresh start later.
The organizational decision to lose over the last two seasons had forced everyone to lose just a little too much. Now that it's over, the next coach--along with Chris Grant--will be held to a new standard in 2013-14.
We'll see what happens then, I guess.
In the meantime, though, best of luck to Byron Scott in his next adventure.
1. If Kyrie Irving didn't want Byron Scott fired, why do it? If anything was learned during the LeBron James era, it was make team decisions, not player decisions. Kyrie Irving has done nothing to have a say so in regards to who's coaching this team. He's a 2nd year player, who lately has given the indication he's clock watching on how much time he actually has left in Cleveland. It's my belief the Cavalier's couldn't risk/waste another year under Scott, 64-166 actually appeared at times to look a lot worse than what it was. Byron Scott (PG Guru) was brought here to develop Irving. Year 2 has come and gone, and I've seen no difference. Some of the questions asked at those pressers leave much to be desired, and usually leave me with more questions than answers. How do you tolerate Kenny Roda? ver question he asks, its like he just witnessed Ole Yeller get shot. The recruitment of Kyrie Irving began at the All-Star game, you heard it here first.
2. Kyrie Irving hasn't reached Superstar status yet, he hasn't changed the franchise. Superstar's make immediate impacts, they change circumstances. The Cavaliers are no better in Irving's 2nd year, than they were in his 1st. With or without him, this is a 20-25 win team. Irving isn't the franchise player, he's currently just the best player for the franchise. He hasn't changed, or elevated the team in any way. I don't see him wanting to stay in Cleveland. and I look forward to his actions when extended a max contract extension after next season.
3. When you're one of the best teams in the NBA, losing 1 player shouldn't make you one of the leagues worst. When you have the means to improve, through free agency (available CAP space) and through the draft (multiple lottery picks) This wasn't a rebuild situation that required, or warranted 3-5 years. You expect to see some sentiments of progress, other than Irving scoring more (he shot more). Nothing was accomplished by Scott coaching Irving his first 2 years. Irving's body language, sure didn't make a case for Scott in any regards. Maybe he's already starting his emotional disconnect. I've never put much in what people say, more so what's done, or not said. IMO, the Cavaliers are a BETTER basketball team now, with Mike Brown being renamed as Head Coach.
4. I don't anything would have been gained by Scott coaching another year, other than more disappointment., excuses, dissention, and time wasted. What do you mean by being held to a new standard? Mike Brown now has the added responsibility of cleaning up the mess of Dan Gilbert and Byron Scott? I think this draft, and off-season will set the table for a strong push in 2 years. I haven't really taken the time to look at draft possibilities, I've been more focused on the Browns. In regards to UFA, I want Brown, and Grant to pursue JJ Hickson, who at PF would be the perfect complement to Thompson at C.
I also wish former coach Byron Scott nothing less than success moving forward, but right here, right now, on this day.... I feel good about the Cleveland cavaliers, and the direction they're finally heading in.
Time outs to stop an opponents' run are brilliant strategy according to analysts and announcers who never coached a game in their lives.
Cavs lost huge leads because they were not a good team.
Cavs got big leads because better teams loafed half the game.
Cavs were not a good team because they have too little skill.
Cavs have too little skill because they are too young.
"Losing your team" happens when management fails to back the coach.
Great defense happens when players stay within roles, recognize offensive patterns, respond quickly.
Recognition comes with experience and intelligence.
Response is innate and programmed; a talented player will improve in time.
Role means abandoning the selfish notion that you, alone, the star of every team you have played on since third-grade, can somehow "win the game" with an individual effort by "willing" your team to win.
Nobody wins a game individually, nobody wills a team to a victory, and nobody can play individual defense, alone, and help his team.
Varajao understood this and played spectacular team defense even if his "man" scored a lot of points and uneducated observers blamed Andy.
Without Andy guiding, teaching, modeling, the 2012-13 Cavaliers were doomed to fail,and fail convincingly.
If Scott had been retained, and Livingston and Walton could be lured back, the Cavs may have fought for a playoff spot next year.
Now, we are set back another two.
@Bric If they lost leads because they weren't a good team, how did they gain those leads in the first place? You call timeouts to stop momentum, to make adjustments. to reset, and refocus. I watched the Cavaliers on occasions outplay, and out hustle good teams. Not my problem, or my concern if the opposing team loafed. Skill set is improved through teaching and coaching. Scott was very poor at making in game adjustments. Losing your team happens when the voice of the coach gets old and tired. Scott was pushing the same principles, and philosophy hoping for different results.
Defense begins with desire, energy, and effort. Recognition begins with understanding. Less talented players tend to work harder. Personally I think you've been watching too much Dr Phil. The best players on any given team, in the game of basketball can win a game individually, or for all intensive purposes, LEAD a team to victory. It was LeBron James back in 2007 in Game 5 vs Detroit, in the Game 6 clincher, it was Daniel Gibson.
A role doesn't mean ABANDONING as much as it means ACCEPTING. With that being said, roles should be clearly defined, and have to be accepted to have success. TEAM has always stood for Together Everyone Achieves More.
What else was varejao going to do, or contribute? He's an energy/hustle guy. He has to play team defense, he isn't a shutdown defender. He and Rodman will never, and shouldn't ever be used in the same sentence. Varejao is an overpaid role player, with very limited offensive skills, can't stay healthy, and benefited from the TEAM success derived from playing with LeBron James.
What's the logic in bringing Scott back, other than picking up the option of a coach in October, that had not yet won 25 games? I would think Livingston would be brought back, he provides length, stability, and is a better decision maker with the basketball than Kyrie irving, IMO. Walton? You want to lure back Luke Walton? For what purpose? If his last name wasn't Walton. and he wasn't a nice guy, would he even still be in the NBA? Statistically speaking, I believe Samardo Samuels has been better than Walton, he damn sure has more upside.
Scott was a likeable guy. No question He developed not just Irving, Waiters, Thompson, Zeller but also unleashed Varejao to score more (Mike Brown never encouraged that) and reinvented Livingston and put Ellington on the map. Expectations from the organization was minimal. He didn't have to make playoffs, win at least 30 games (low) and improve in defense as a whole. That's IT!! After 3 years, Cavs still the worst defensive NBA team. Players in college baskeball played better defense. No lie! Defense killed the Cavs more than the slew of injuries and there isn't any supporting evidence that this would change because Scott just didn't teach it. Granted there was inexperienced players losing us games but you can only take that so far. Did you forget Scott's maddening in game coaching? No time outs until 10 down, no time outs in ticking seconds of a possible win(players panicked for his guidance). Insane rotations of yanking hot players and leaving in unproductive players with 3 turnovers in for too long. . Not putting a needed Tristan in sooner to help us win in a close game. His stupid doghouse of 2 token players banned for months. You are delusional if you don't believe at times his coaching did cost the Cavs a few games. It is being leaked out the organization did try to talk to him about defensive issues and the above but it fell on deaf ears. As a coach, you have to teach the tools they need to win but also COACH WELL during the games. This wasn't going to change and they had no choice but to let him go. Wish Scott the best because he is really nice guy but we need more than being nice to win.
@TV63TV It was never about whether or not Scott was a likeable guy, it was about whether or not he could EFFECTIVELY lead this team post-LeBron James. How has Scott developed Irving? All he did was hand the ball, and the team to him, when Ramon Sessions was a more efficient, and effective PG. I don't think he has anything to with irving leading the team in scoring, he leads the team in FGA's. In fact, I would not be surprised if that's not a category Irving leads his draft class in. Scott as a "PG Guru" has improved Irving's AST/TO ratio, and court leadership how? Let's not attempt to manufacture credit here.
What Waiters has proven, is that he's a better, or should I say more efficient player when he comes off the bench. Boeheim must have known what he was doing by bringing Waiters off the bench at Syracuse. Neither Irving or Waiters are known for their defense. so schematically it made sense to split them up, also both are most effective with the ball in their hands. That was a problem that surfaced previously with LeBron James, and Larry Hughes. It wasn't that Hughes was a bad signing, or poor player, he just didn't fit with LeBron James. Hughes was moved from Philadelphia for the same reason, how would he fit with Allen Iverson? Waiters has more favorable matchups, at both ends of the floor, opposing 2nd units, ie: coming off the bench.
Tristan Thompson has benefited more so than anything from the injury to Anderson Varejao, and more time on the floor. I thought Thompson had to start, had to see significant time to develop. With where he was drafted, and what the Cavaliers gained (nothing) by trading JJ Hickson away. Thompson is a significant upgrade over Varejao, and should be the starter. Same with Tyler Zeller, I think his improvement, has been due in part to more time on the floor. I'd rather have seen he and Thompson starting together, with Varejao coming off the bench paired with Waiters.
Define "Unleashing" Varejao? Varejao was not an option in the Brown era, he was about 7th-8th on the list of ACTUAL offensive weapons, and that's a generous assessment. What Varejao has found under Scott is more shot opportunities on a bad team. Maybe that;s why he hasn't been able to stay healthy (81 games played last 3 seasons) he's been exerting too much energy on trying to be an offensive option. Mike Brown knew exactly who, and what Varejao was a player, and put him in the best possible situations to have success. What Brown did do however, was in one season, turn Andrew Bynum into an All-NBA center, something Phil Jackson never accomplished in 7 years.
Livingston as well as Ellington, are also guys making the most of time, and opportunity. Livingston finally looks as if he's playing with no fear from the devastating knee injury he suffered. Ellington has been able to show what he's capable of, when given an opportunity. The one good thing in going to a bad team, there will be opportunities. Ellington in Memphis. was not much different than Green here.
I don't know if its fair to say that organizational expectations were minimal, i think they were high, but probably unrealistic. Kyrie Irving was not going to have the same TEAM impact on the floor as LeBron James had. I guess most of the so called experts had to ACTUALLY see that for themselves, as opposed to regurgitating the jargon of other so called experts. What hindered the growth, development, or transition of the organization moving forward, were poor personnel, and organizational decisions. Not being honest in assessments, only create more problems.
It's not that the Cavaliers didn't win enough games (they failed to win 25 in any of the last 3 seasons) its how they were losing games. As a team, they just never seemed to improve, or make progress. I don't think Scott was ever brought here for defense. more so offense, and the development of Kyrie Irving (also to get the attention of James #Fail) The team lost its defensive identity under Scott. I don't blame losing on youth and inexperience, I fault coaching, and lack of preparation. Just 2 years ago, Golden St was only 2 games better than the Cavaliers (23) and they are now in the playoffs. What's the difference?
We all know why the team lost so often recently.
It had nothing to do with Scott.
We also know Tristan, Kyrie, Waiters, Gee and Varajao greatly improved under this coaching staff.
There must have been something happening behind the scenes that we will never know about that caused this disastrous move.
Maybe Coach Scott tired of the battle, maybe he resisted certain suggestions made by management, maybe the owner feels humiliated by his own rhetoric and has decided to scapegoat Scott.
For fools who think yelling at people makes them play better, I hope my grandchildren never work under you, play under you, or live near you.
Inner-city teaching and coaching confirmed what I had already learned in childhood that patience and incremental improvement are what build excellence, and over-emotional ranting only impedes progress.
This is probably a bad move, maybe a terrible one.
@Bric If losing had nothing t do with the coaching, what did? If he had no impact on the losing, he had no impact on the winning either (what little there was) so what was his purpose for being here? None of those players you mentioned greatly improved under his coaching staff. Explain that, or define significant improvement. He was 64-166 in 3 seasons, had an NBA record 26 game losing streak, and this season finished 42 games out of 1st place, what more needed to be seen?
How about maybe Scott wasn't an upgrade, maybe Scott just wasn't the right coach for this situation, maybe Scott just didn't get it done. Different methods get different results. Some need to be coddled, an extra pat on the back, and some need a swift kick in the ass. What does inner-city teaching have to do with anything? Not sure if you were making a racist remark or just an old ignorant asshole.
@BowersCLE who is next?