One thing we know for sure is that the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to have a new coach. Mike Brown was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2009, but his failure to beat the Celtics in the playoffs this year when his team was expected to win it all was the final straw. The Cavs are obviously a desperate franchise. With the uncertainty around where LeBron James is going to play next year the team can’t afford to look like it isn’t taking steps to improve, and Brown just wasn’t getting it done when it matters. There are several NBA teams looking for coaches right now, and at least one more that still could be in the coming weeks. What makes Cleveland’s job so intriguing, though, is what the team could look like next year. If James re-signs then the new coach would be taking over one of the two best players in the NBA, and would have a realistic look at multiple titles. If James leaves, though, then Cleveland is just another job in a smaller market. The job is either the best there is or it’s nothing – there is no middle ground.
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The Hornets have become the first team to fire a coach this year by booting Byron Scott just a year and a half after he was named NBA Coach of the Year. The team had limped out to a 3-6 start, and two of those win hardly count because they were against the Clippers and Kings. I’d sum up the way the franchise handled this with two words – inevitable and stupid. It was inevitable because Scott had to go because of the start and because of the way the season last year went – a disappointing regular season and humiliating playoffs. Chris Paul was frustrated and the team has no more important task than keeping Paul happy. They are already over the luxury tax threshold so they can’t overhaul the roster in a meaningful way, so Scott was the only real option. The move was stupid, though, because of their choice of a replacement. The new head coach is general manager Jeff Bower. He has been with the team since 1995 and he built the current team so he knows them well, but he has never been a head coach and a couple of assistant stints atMarist and Penn State a hundred years ago are his only real bits of (barely) relevant experience. They have also hired Tim Floyd as Bower’s top assistant. Not only if Floyd coming off a disgraceful exit from USC, but his last coaching experience in the NBA was with the Hornets – and they fired him in 2004 after one season because he didn’t do a good job. I have no problem with getting rid of Scott, but only if they replace with a coach with a good chance of being better than Scott was. I just don’t really see that here.