Posted on: September 21, 2010 3:13 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 3:28 pm
The misnomer about LeBron James leaving Cleveland is that people thought fans in Northeast Ohio were mad at him for leaving. Wrong. They were mad at him for the way he left. So with the first post-LeBron training camp around the corner, the Cavs’ brass are hoping the fan base is as realistic and patient as they will be as they recover from the Decision and all that it wrought. Internally, the Cavs have moved on. They have a new coach with rebuilding experience (Byron Scott) and a new front-office team with a lot of promise and assets at their disposal (GM Chris Grant and VP of basketball ops David Griffin).
Personnel-wise, no one inside the organization is putting any limits on what this team can do. The bad: They lost LeBron, and simply won’t recover in the short term. The good: They still believe they have the defensive foundation that Mike Brown built, along with enough shooters (Anthony Parker, Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson), former All-Stars (Antawn Jamison) and defensive dynamos (Varejao) to be competitive until the opportunity to pounce on a major personnel upgrade presents itself. Until then, here’s your preseason primer on the Cavs without you-know-who:
Training camp site: Independence, Ohio
Training camp starts: Sept. 28
Key additions: Ramon Sessions (trade), Ryan Hollins (trade), Joey Graham (free agent), Christian Eyenga (draft)
Key subtractions: Shaquille O’Neal (free agent), Delonte West (trade), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (free agent), Sebastian Telfair (trade), plus franchise identity, millions in ticket/merchandise sales, and the very soul of a tortured, doomed sports populace (i.e. some guy named ... oh, never mind).
Likely starting lineup: Williams, PG; Parker, SG; Joey Graham, SF; Jamison, PF; Anderson Varejao, C.
Player to watch: J.J. Hickson. He’s the guy the Cavs refused to give up in any trade scenario for Jamison or Amar’e Stoudemire. With you-know-who out of the picture, Hickson should benefit from increased touches and has a chance to be a bright spot as the otherwise dismal post-you-know-who era begins.
Chemistry check: Williams and Jamison both thought they were coming to Cleveland to win titles with you-know-who. Well, with you-know-who having taken his you-know-whats to South Beach, it will be interesting to watch how these veterans approach a daunting rebuilding project.
Camp battles: Graham, Jamario Moon and Jawad Williams will have a lively competition to replace you-know-who at small forward.
Biggest strength: If you take the glass-half-full approach, this is actually the ideal opportunity for Scott to re-establish a winning culture and instill his usual combination of defense, toughness, up-tempo offense and conditioning without getting pushback from cranky veterans who have grown tired of him. (That comes later.) Also, as difficult as this is for Cavs fans to swallow, the Cavs acquired some very useful assets in the sign-and-trade transaction that ultimately sent you-know-you to Miami. With multiple future first- and second-round picks, expiring contracts and a $14.5 million trade exception, the Cavs are positioned nicely when the right opportunity presents itself. They could’ve burned cap space this summer on average players as an emotional reaction to you-know-who’s departure. But Grant doesn’t – and won’t – operate that way. He will be unemotional and methodical, which is how Cavs fans should want him to be. The addition of Griffin, the former Suns executive, gives Cleveland a keen and connected personnel man to team with Grant; it has the makings of one of the finest front-office tandems in the league.
Glaring weakness: Who’s going to score, defend, perform chase-down blocks, sell tickets, toss talc, pose for idiotic pregame mock celebratory productions, star in hour-long reality TV shows stabbing his hometown in the back, and generally just save the world? Someday, someone besides you-know-who.
Posted on: June 30, 2010 9:26 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2010 9:53 pm
The Cavaliers are in deep discussions with Byron Scott to be their next head coach, two people familiar with the matter confirmed to CBSSports.com. Barring any unexpected hitches in negotiation, the two-time Finals coach will take over for Mike Brown, who was fired after the Cavs' premature playoff exit.
Scott, the former coach of the Nets and Hornets, and Lakers assistant Brian Shaw went down to the wire as the two finalists to replace Brown. Shaw was "extremely impressive" in his interview, a person involved in the process said, but Scott's experience, defensive system and track record of coaching in two Finals were the deciding factors for the Cavs.
Cavs GM Chris Grant, owner Dan Gilbert and the basketball staff met late into Tuesday night after completing Shaw's interview and decided t to move forward with Scott -- no knock on Shaw, but rather a nod to the fact that Scott's resume had all the boxes checked that Cleveland was looking for, according to a person familiar with the decision. Still unsure whether free-agent LeBron James will be returning to the Cavs, the team was particularly impressed with Scott's history of coaching superstars to the cusp of a championship and also inheriting rebuilding teams and instilling them with a winning culture. While sources said management did not ask for James' approval on the hire, the choice of an established coach with a winning pedigree and a strong emphasis on defense will not hurt Cleveland's efforts to retain James amid dogged pursuit from the Bulls, Heat, Knicks, Nets and (on the periphery of the madness) the Clippers.
Shaw, awaiting Phil Jackson's decision on whether to retire or return to pursue another championship in L.A. next season, in fact came away from the interview process convinced that the Cavs will be able to keep LeBron, said Shaw's agent, Jerome Stanley.
"Just the passion that ownership has, the fact that they are committed to winning, and LeBron having displayed loyalty to them, he felt they'd be able to keep him," Stanley said. "That's just his opinion."
Stanley also said Shaw was uncomfortable with the speed at which the Cavs wanted to move in completing the hire. It is crunch time, with free agency kicking off at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, but the Cavs have moved as deliberately as any contending team in memory engaged in a coaching search.
"They would've wanted a decision very fast, and Brian felt it just wasn't going to fit his timing," Stanley said.
Shaw and the rest of Jackson's staff do not have contracts for next season as they await Jackson's decision. A person with strong ties to Jackson told CBSSports.com Wednesday that the 11-time championship coach had yet to make a decision on whether to coach next season. But there have been strong indications over the past few days that Jackson, 64, will not be faced with any health reasons that preclude him from coaching. And if that is what Jackson decides to do, the person close to him said it is believed that the contractual details will be worked out.
Posted on: June 23, 2010 5:03 pm
The big news about 30 hours before the NBA draft didn’t involve John Wall, Evan Turner or DeMarcus Cousins. It revolved around a 64-year-old coach with artificial hips and a finger on the pulse on the coaching and free agency landscape – a fellow named Phil Jackson.
One of the biggest dominoes of the offseason didn’t exactly tumble Wednesday, but it’s teetering – toward retirement.
“I’m leaning towards retiring but I have not made up my mind,” Jackson told reporters as the back-to-back champion Lakers conducted their season-ending exit interviews.
Big news. Or is it? The Zen Master carefully worded the most definitive statement yet about his future, leaving the door open to returning for a chance at a three-peat. Given that Jackson conceded during the NBA Finals that he’s been told a significant pay cut would be required if he returned to the Lakers next season, this could be Phil’s way of forcing Dr. Jerry Buss’ hand.
It also could be a graceful way for the 11-time champion to exit stage left, turning the reins over to former Laker Byron Scott – whose candidacy for the Cavs’ coaching job is officially on hold while Jackson makes his final decision.
Scott is serious about the Cleveland job, and the Cavs are serious about him. But everyone involved understands that Scott’s dream job is coaching the Lakers. While Kobe Bryant has been adamant that he wants Jackson back, he’d be amenable to Scott taking over if that’s the way it had to be.
In some ways, it would be the perfect way for Scott to validate his coaching resume – taking over a team that is loaded with talent and poised to win at least one more championship while Bryant is still in his prime. One of the knocks on Scott is that he wears out his welcome in the locker room after two or three years, and that’s about all this Lakers dynasty has left, anyway.
Jackson has said there’s a 90 percent chance that he’s either coaching the Lakers next season or not coaching at all. Depending on your skill level with mathematics, that means there’s a 10 percent chance he’s coaching somewhere else. To that point, the Clippers and even the Cavs will continue to hold out hope that they could lure Jackson. Both presumably would offer a multi-year deal, whereas Jackson’s tenure with the Lakers has been made up of a series of one-year deals in recent years. But it’s difficult to believe that Buss would stand idly by and watch Jackson jilt Bryant for LeBron James. Could you ever imagine Jackson doing that to Michael Jordan in his prime? Also, at this point Jackson has earned the right to be taken at his word that health and the grind of the NBA season – 114 games for the Lakers this past season from preseason to Game 7 of the Finals – are the only factors he’s considering.
So we wait for Phil to make his next move, which will affect a lot of other moves across the basketball landscape.