CLEVELAND — Brian Shaw interviewed for 12 head coaching jobs before the Denver Nuggets gave him his first shot by hiring him in June.
The fourth or fifth of those interviews was with the Cavaliers in 2010. Cleveland had just fired Mike Brown, who is now in the first year of his second stint with the franchise.
LeBron James’ future was uncertain — he would soon bolt for Miami — and Danny Ferry had resigned as general manager, with Chris Grant taking his place.
Cleveland’s head coaching choice came down to Shaw and Byron Scott, with Shaw the apparent frontrunner. Scott even went so far as to send a congratulatory text message to Shaw.
“It was very bizarre,” said Shaw, whose Nuggets brought a seven-game winning streak into their game against the Cavs on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena. “My agent (Jerome Stanley) and the owners and (Grant) went into another room. I thought (a contract negotiation) was what was going on.”
Around the same time, Phil Jackson’s future with the Los Angeles Lakers, where Shaw was an assistant and one of the top candidates to eventually replace him, was also uncertain.
The Cavs, perhaps sensing that was where Shaw’s heart was, ended up offering the job to Scott, who went 64-166 in his three seasons in Cleveland.
“They came back and said, ‘We’ll let you know something very soon,’” Shaw said.
Shaw, who spent 14½ hours talking with the Cavs over a two-day period, was a bit vague when asked whether he turned down the job or was not offered it, saying, “When I got on the plane to go back to L.A., I knew that job was not going to be my job.”
As things turned out, Jackson ended up spending one more season coaching the Lakers before retiring. Oddly enough, he was replaced by Brown in 2011, with Brown getting canned five games into his second season in Los Angeles.
Shaw, who said he interviewed with the Cavs from 3:30 p.m. to midnight on his first day and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on his second, has no regrets or hard feelings.
“I felt like I really learned a lot going through that interviewing process,” he said. “We talked for two days, for hours and hours and hours.”
Shaw was an assistant with the Lakers for Andrew Bynum’s first six NBA seasons and said the current Cavs center “came a long way” in that time.
“When he’s in shape and he’s healthy, he can be a dominant force on the floor,” Shaw said.
J.J. Hickson, who played for the Cavs from 2008-11, entered Wednesday averaging 9.9 points and 8.1 rebounds as the undersized Nuggets’ starting center. Hickson, whose given name is James Edward, has started 15 of Denver’s 18 games.
“He’s more mature,” Brown said. “I’m sure if he gets out of line, his grandma will come and grab him and get him back in shape again.”
The 25-year-old Hickson, who played his first two NBA seasons under Brown, averaged 9.1 points and 5.6 rebounds during his time with the Cavs. His best season in Cleveland was his last, when he averaged 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds under Scott.
He said that?
Hickson drew Brown’s ire on a number of occasions while they were with the Cavs, but the sixth-year pro was complimentary when asked about his first NBA coach.
Well, sort of complimentary.
“I know it sounds like a broken record when he talks, but it works,” he said. “He doesn’t have the (championship) rings to show it, but he has the wins. I know it took me a whole year, year-and-a-half, to buy into it, because who wants to come to practice to work on defense?
“But in this league, that’s what wins championships. That’s something (the players) have to understand. Once I got it, and once a team gets it, that’s when a team makes it far in the playoffs or wins a championship.”
Old trade talk
The 6-9, 242-pound Hickson, the No. 19 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, was traded to Sacramento after the 2010-11 season for Omri Casspi and a potential first-round pick that the Cavs have yet to receive because it has protections attached to it.
Cleveland will get Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2014 if it is not in the top 12, in 2015 if it is not in the top 10 and in 2016 if it is not in the top 10. If the Cavs haven’t acquired the pick by then, they will get the Kings’ second-round choice in 2017 and the trade will be complete.
Hickson’s erratic play and lack of concentration were the most notable aspects of his rookie season in Cleveland, when he averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in 62 games.
Asked if there were any similarities between Hickson as a rookie and current No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett, who entered Wednesday averaging 2.2 points on .224 shooting, Brown said, “(Hickson) has found his niche in the NBA. I don’t think it’s going to be any different with Bennett. Eventually, his talent will come to the table and everybody will get a taste of it.”
The Cavs entered the Nuggets game on a one-game winning streak, but had not won two games in a row all season.
The last time Cleveland captured two straight was April 5-7 of last season, when it won in Boston and at home vs. Orlando.
The Los Angeles Clippers-Cavs game on Saturday will no longer by televised by NBA TV.
• The Nuggets, who were playing the third game of a six-game road trip, were minus sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari (torn ACL).
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.