AP source: Cavs in "serious talks" with Scott
AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) – On the eve of LeBron James’ exalted entrance into free agency, the Cleveland Cavaliers gave him something else to consider.
They may finally have their coach.
In an unexpected turn of events, the team is in “serious talks” with former New Orleans coach Byron Scott, a person familiar with Cleveland’s dramatic and drawn-out search told The Associated Press. Scott, who was presumed to have fallen behind Lakers assistant Brian Shaw on the Cavs’ list, could be named their coach by Thursday.
After completing interviews with several candidates including Shaw, the Cavaliers decided to “move in the Scott direction,” said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because the process is supposed to remain confidential.
The person said Cleveland has not yet offered Scott the job, “but is moving toward an agreement with him.”
“Nothing is done or finalized,” the person said. “It’s still coming together.”
Scott, a two-time NBA coach of the year, was believed to be a leading candidate to replace Phil Jackson in Los Angeles if the 11-time champion retired. Jackson is expected to announce his plans later this week, but Scott’s renewed interest in Cleveland – hours before James is set to hit the free-agent market – could indicate Jackson will return to try and win a third straight championship with the Lakers.
Shaw is reportedly Jackson’s preferred choice to take over the Lakers if he ends his unparalleled career.
The Cavs have been without a coach since firing Mike Brown after five seasons. Brown’s dismissal, less than two weeks after the team fell short of a title with a second-round loss to Boston, was followed by a failed pursuit of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
Shaw appeared to be the front runner to take over the Cavs following a two-day interview with owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Chris Grant. Shaw’s agent, Jerome Stanley, confirmed in an e-mail to the AP late Tuesday night that his client was Cleveland’s favored choice, and there were reports that Shaw was assembling a staff to help him in his first head coaching gig.
Scott’s agent, Brian McInerney, even sent out an e-mail congratulating Shaw on getting Cleveland’s job.
“Coach Scott welcomes Coach Shaw into the ranks of head coaching, and as a Laker family brother, wishes him the best, until the final two minutes of any game where they are competing against each other,” the e-mail said.
But the Cavs never offered Shaw the position, and their attention turned to Scott as they prepared to make a strong pitch in coming days to woo James.
The 49-year-old Scott could entice the two-time MVP’s return. Scott won three NBA titles during 11 seasons playing with the Lakers on their “Showtime” teams as Magic Johnson’s backcourtmate. He also has experience coaching superstar players such as Jason Kidd and Chris Paul, both of whom are friends with James, and he has built a strong relationship with Kobe Bryant, a former teammate.
Scott emerged as a strong contender in Cleveland after Izzo rejected the club’s reported $30 million offer two weeks ago. Scott and McInerney met with Gilbert, Grant and other members of the Cavs’ ownership group on Father’s Day in Michigan.
Scott’s career record of 352-355 includes two trips to the finals with New Jersey (2002-03).