Byron Scott’s rise in New Jersey was meteoric, but his once promising career may have peaked too early. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Scott was fired on Thursday morning after three years as Cavaliers head coach.
Just don’t blame Kyrie Irving. He may not have issued the most passionate plea for Scott’s job security, but it was owner Dan Gilbert’s frustration with Cleveland’s defense that did Scott in.
The Cavs were never supposed to win this season, but Gilbert told the Beacon Journal during training camp that this was an important year to see progress.
“I don’t even know what the definition of that is,” Gilbert said in October. “But you’ll know it when you see it.”
The team clearly didn’t show enough of it this year, at least not to the owner’s liking.
The Cavs finished last in the league in defensive field-goal percentage, allowing opponents to shoot better than 47 percent. During Scott’s three years in charge, opponents shot .475, .467 and .476 this season. They never ranked higher than 27th in the league defensively.
The team suffered the two biggest collapses in franchise history this season, blowing a 26-point lead to the Phoenix Suns and a 27-point lead to the Miami Heat in March. They lost to the New York Knicks after leading by 22 points, they blew a 14-point lead to the Boston Celtics during the last eight minutes and then lost to the Indiana Pacers after leading by 20 with nine minutes left. They became the first team in 15 years to lose four games they led by at least 20 points, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
It’s been a gradual fall from grace for Scott. In his first gig as New Jersey Nets head coach, Jason Kidd fell dropped from the heavens in a trade with Phoenix and two NBA Finals appearances soon followed. It was all downhill from there. After his dismissal, the Nets responded to Scott's dismissal by rattling off 13 straight wins–a record for a new head coach.
Afterwards, Scott took the jorneaux to New Orleans where a young Chris Paul was manning the point. After falling a game short of the 2008 Conference Finals, Scott was dismissed by New Orleans nine games into the 2009 season.
However, Scott’s downfall got a powerful push from LeBron James. In the three years since he took the Cavs job, Scott’s career has gone full circle. After Phil Jackson’s short-lived retirement began, Scott was on a short list to be his successor. Instead, Scott took a chance on LeBron James returning to Quicken Loans Arena, watched him take his talents to South Beach and then settled in for the long winter. Rumor is that his successor may be (drum roll) Phil Jackson.
Scott may have to bunker down as well. Buried underneath an avalanch of losses, his stock has taken a hit to the chin. His record was an abysmal 64-162 in three seasons and his winning percentage is just .444. There are also aren't any general managers clamoring for Scott at this juncture in his career. Scott may have to start over from rock bottom.