This will be a slightly shorter post but is the precursor to some substantial blogs about the Cavs. I suppose I shouldn’t be stunned at the way the Cavs’ losing season is unraveling the fabric of the team and Cleveland fans support of it. But I will admit that I am kind of shocked and dismayed at the latest developments. First of all, the team has performed pitifully over the past few weeks. The record has followed as expected by the poor performances. This will be explored further in a future blog, but it has been tough to watch. Second, the team’s best player was a “no show” at the fan appreciation ceremonies after the final home loss. And, finally, the sharks are in the water and circling Coach Byron Scott.
This entire Cavs circus has been sandwiched with comments leaked in the papers about Scott’s inability to reach the team or Irving’s developing disinterest in the Cavs or that a coach looking for work in the NBA said that he wouldn’t “touch” the Cavs situation because it is just so bad and the “organization is a mess”. These kind of developments do not bode well for the future of the Cavs and speaks to the ongoing joy so many national and local commentators have in dissing this organization (and city of course). The true Cleveland fans reading this stuff must always realize that the NBA and the media that is, in effect, controlled by them has a vested interest in the Cavs organization being dog dung and LeBron being elevated back to sainthood status. One only needs to look at how professional golf suffered when Tiger Woods moral stumbles affected his public perceptions and tour performances. This is big business folks. Millions and millions of dollars are involved. Do not discount the power of those dollars and believe when I tell ya that Cleveland improving is not helpful to the NBA unless Kyrie develops into a Mega Star. And, if he does, there will be tons of pressure to get him out of Cleveland.
With that rather depressing backdrop, I am here to tell you that I am not nearly as concerned about all of this consternation toward and teeth gnashing about the Cavs. Yes, our big star did make a terrible mistake by leaving the court in anger after being “shown up” by Norris Cole of the Heat. Not being involved in fan appreciation really sends a horrible message to the Cleveland fans. However, even faking being happy after that embarrassment would be even more disconcerting. No one can doubt the fire burning in Kyrie’s belly after that game and the sadly incompetent result. That game will drive Kyrie all off-season and he will never forget it. The fact that it caused him to make the most serious public relations mistake of his young and promising career will grind on him even more. I am betting that this will result in a Kyrie more determined than ever to learn how to exert defensive pressure as well as offensive excellence at crunch time. So, he made a mistake. If he comes back stronger next year, I think we will forget a 21 year old’s mistake very quickly.
I am more concerned that some respected media have indicated that Byron Scott is on his way out. I will be the first to admit that Scott has not performed at the top of his game the past three years. He has made questionable choices during games and even with his rotations. I am convinced sometimes that he is not “coaching to win” even though his words say differently. However, he took the job when it appeared that he who left might not leave. He inherited a mess and a GM that was determined to maintain “flexibility” and build through the draft. After his “grabs” for titles by trying to patch a team together around one player, Dan Gilbert was more than happy to follow the lead of his GM. Many moves made by Grant have been nothing short of brilliant but they have not been geared to improve the team rapidly. They have been designed to protect the future once we finally gather a real basketball team together. I can’t tell you how many fans and commentators and talk show hosts and bloggers all talked about how the team would have to “suck” for three years before they would have a chance to build a real championship core and, eventually, team. So, here we are. Three years of monumental crappy play and all under Coach Scott. Wow Coach, what an utterly fantastic job !!!!!! You were able to follow the ONLY plan we had to become a championship caliber team again. Three years of pathetic play and three top five draft picks. Oh, and by the way, you are fired and we will bring in another Head Coach to leach off of all of your work and succeed. What a country huh???
So, those of you calling for Scott’s head would be mortified and sick if you were placed in such a Kobayashi Maru scenario at your job. If you have never heard of ancient Star Trek lore, I mean he had no chance to succeed and keep is job while following the plan. Maybe we will never get to know the truth. If Scott is fired, in my opinion, we will never even know how he really coaches with a talented team. How he coached with these rag tag groups is no reflection on his ultimate coaching prowess. That being said, if he is given a chance to return, he must bring in an assistant to get this team on the same page on defense. As many have mentioned, we need a defensive specialist. The Cavs scored enough points to win. But they allowed a horrific opponent shooting percentage and way too many points. No matter what the excuse, that is unacceptable.
If I were Grant, I would retain Scott and privately make it clear to him that he must get the team winning in 2013-14 to retain his job. I would demand that he bring on a defensive coach to focus the team on that side of the floor. If Scott refused, I would let him go. I would also sadly accept the fact that I (Grant) needed to alter my plan just a bit and to recognize that I needed to get my coach some better players in 13-14 even if some flexibility is sacrificed. I wouldn’t try to get a max contract free agent or trade the core kids, but I would do anything I could to improve the team enough to almost assure a playoff run next year. Waiting for 2014-2015 will NOT cut it now. We need to make the playoffs next year. Or get darn close trying. Anything less will truly end the “Byron Scott” era and usher in the beginning of the end for Kyrie Irving in Cleveland. I have heard this song before and I don’t like it. The losing must end this year!