The Cavaliers have fired Byron Scott, and, suddenly, one of the best coaching situations in the NBA just opened up. Yes. In Cleveland.
The Cavs have Kyrie Irving. They’ve got Dion Waiters, coming off a strong rookie season. They’ve got money to spend this summer and most likely, next summer. All told, by the summer of 2014, they’ll have Irving, Waiters, two lottery picks and cap space.
And maybe LeBron James, a free agent next summer.
Is this enough to convince Phil Jackson to roll the dice and take the Cavs’ job? Assuming, of course, it’s offered by Dan Gilbert?
If Gilbert is smart, his first call is to Jackson. That doesn’t mean Jackson will bite. He’s made it clear he wants control in the personnel decisions, and that’s not going to happen in Cleveland because Chris Grant has done a terrific job. Yet, if you’re Jackson, do you pass on the chance to possibly — possibly — coach LeBron? And if you’re LeBron, do you pass on the chance to return to Cleveland, join a much better surrounding cast than the one you left two years ago, play for Jackson and warm your way back into the hearts of a jilted city?
It’s a scenario that’s almost too good to be true. And yet, if everything falls right, it can happen. And it would be the biggest news to hit the NBA since LeBron left for Miami and hooked up with Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2011.
A fallback plan would have Cleveland hiring Jackson’s former top assistant, Brian Shaw, who’ll be the hottest name in coaching this summer. Shaw worked well with both Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal with the Lakers and wouldn’t be a bad choice at all. But if Cleveland has the chance to get Jackson, then it must be done. Get Jackson and make it very tough for LeBron to turn down the chance to make nice with Cleveland.
The Sixers also have an opening after Doug Collins stepped down, but that job appears to be a headache waiting to happen. The Sixers are a mish-mash of conflicting talent, built to support a center, Andrew Bynum, whose body can’t support anything. Philly has three-year-project written all over it.
Other potential openings could happen in L.A., where Vinny Del Negro is a first-round loss away from being in serious trouble with the Clippers, and Memphis if the Grizzlies are foolish enough to let Lionel Hollins walk. There’s also the chance of change in Sacramento. Or maybe Seattle.
Look for Shaw and the Van Gundy brothers, Stan and Jeff, to be top choices this summer for jobs. Jeff will likely stay in TV at least another year. Family obligations in Orlando could also keep Stan from jumping back onto a bench right away.