INDEPENDENCE — In a sudden turn of events, the Cavaliers were on the verge of hiring Byron Scott as their next head coach Wednesday night.
A source confirmed the Cavaliers were “in deep discussions” with Scott and agent Brian McInerney, but nothing had been finalized.
An official announcement could come as soon as today, which would coincide with the beginning of two-time league MVP LeBron James’ free agency.
The source said the team never offered the job to Lakers assistant Brian Shaw, who on Tuesday appeared to be on the verge of succeeding Mike Brown in Cleveland.
Shaw’s agent, Jerome Stanley, claimed his client withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday afternoon, but exactly why is open to interpretation.
Shaw could have learned he was not going to get the Cleveland job and withdrew in order to save face, or he could have gathered information that led him to believe he would be the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Phil Jackson, who has led the Lakers to back-to-back titles, is expected to decide soon if he will return to the bench. Even if Jackson does return, Shaw could be in line to succeed him in 2011-12.
It’s also possible that either Shaw was pressuring the Cavaliers to get things done or the Cavaliers were pressuring Shaw to decide, as even McInerney, Scott’s agent, had e-mailed media outlets congratulating Shaw on getting the job.
Regardless, having already been spurned by Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who turned down a five-year, $30 million offer, the Cavaliers will no doubt try to sell Scott as their next choice all along.
The source said that while the Cavaliers were “very impressed” with Shaw’s interview, the team was “extremely excited” about adding Scott.
Scott, 49, has coached 10 seasons in the NBA with New Jersey and New Orleans, compiling a 352-355 record in the regular season (.498) and a 32-24 mark in the playoffs (.571). Scott led the Nets to the NBA Finals in 2001-02 and 2002-03.
The NBA Coach of the Year in 2007-08 with New Orleans — Brown won the award the next season in Cleveland — Scott was fired when the Hornets opened 2009-10 with a 3-6 record.
Scott also played 14 NBA seasons, compiling a 14.1 career scoring average and winning three titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, who were known as “Showtime” in that era.
As he did as a player, Scott’s coaching style is to run with the ball on offense, but he’s not considered an extremely strong defensive coach.
How the hiring of Scott will affect James’ future is uncertain, but he does fit one of the 25-year-old’s wishes in that he’s a former player. So is Shaw, a Lakers assistant for the past six seasons who has no head coaching experience.
During his time with the Hornets, Scott also got along extremely well with New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, arguably James’ best friend among NBA players.
Warrant out for Hickson
An Ohio judge has issued a warrant for Cleveland Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson after he failed to show up for two hearings about a speeding ticket. Judge Mark Hassett issued a warrant Monday after Hickson did not appear in Chardon Municipal Court for hearings on June 7 and June 14. A clerk says Hickson had not shown up in court by Wednesday, just minutes before the office closed. Police cited Hickson on May 27 for allegedly driving 61 mph in a 25 mph zone in central Ohio.
Hickson’s lawyer, Henry Hilow, said he was unaware of the warrant. He did not return a message seeking further comment.
Hickson faces another speeding charge in Rocky River Municipal Court from June 23. He’s been convicted on four other speeding charges in Rocky River.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.