What was considered inevitable over the past few weeks was made official today when the Cleveland Cavaliers fired coach Byron Scott.
Many will say the firing was unjustified because of all of the injuries and young players that Scott had to deal with. All of that is true, but you can’t get past the notion that the Cavs quit on the season several weeks ago, and that falls on the head coach.
Scott’s an old school guy, believing that professional basketball players should show up to work everyday and play hard. That’s the way it was when he played for the Lakers. However, he played with all time greats like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy.
Those guys did show up every night. There are a lot of players in today’s NBA that don’t have a professional attitude.
The head coach didn’t adjust.
The biggest statistic used against Scott in his tenure with the wine and gold was the horrible defense. The Cavs allowed opponents to shoot 47% from the floor this season, and it wasn’t always the fault of not having a force inside either.
Cleveland opponents received plenty of open looks from the perimeter as well.
Part of that problem was the inability of his best player, Kyrie Irving, to control the man he was defending. But was there a penalty for Kyrie for not playing defense? It doesn’t appear that there was. Shouldn’t have Scott cut minutes for last year’s Rookie of the Year at some point?
It is a different era in the league these days we understand that. Still, it is incumbent on the coach to tell a player who has all the ability in the world that he needed to excel on both ends on the floor to be considered a great player.
The other thing that haunted Scott was the huge leads his team blew throughout the season. If you are going to defend the coach because he had no talent, he had enough to build several 20-point leads that the Cavs blew.
If they had won those games, and a few others when they had sizeable leads but couldn’t finish the job, Cleveland would have 30 wins this year, and Scott might still have a job.
Also, the Cavs had a stretch in late January/early February, after the trade with Memphis, where the team went 10-9, playing solid basketball.
Granted, the injury bug hit again, as Irving and rookie Dion Waiters got hurt, but the wine and gold finished by losing 15 of their last 17 contests, and looked disinterested in many of them.
Scott didn’t feel it was his job to play hard, and many times after games he would complain that the squad “came out flat”. Isn’t it his job to make sure the team was prepared?
On other nights where they did play well in the first half, they came out after halftime and played a huge egg in the third quarter.
It happened too many times for the coach not to accept any blame.
And after it happened a few times, it is the responsibility of the coach to fix the problem. For whatever reason, Scott couldn’t.
There is no question that this firing now puts the onus clearly on GM Chris Grant. Whoever the new coach is, if the Cavaliers do not show improvement next season, Grant’s behind will be clearly on the hot seat.
They say a GM gets to hire two coaches, and the next Cavs’ coach will be Grant’s second hire. He has to bring in more talent to make sure this team is competitive next season.
After three seasons of mostly horrible basketball, people in northeastern Ohio are expecting a contending team in 2013-14. It is up to Grant and however he chooses as coach to make sure that expectation becomes a reality.