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NBA Rumors: Has Byron Scott lost the Cleveland Cavaliers locker room?

We're continuing our discussion about Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott and trying to figure out if he should be fired after the season. In this post, the Fear the Sword writers tackle some questions about the chemistry in the locker room.


The Cleveland Cavaliers obviously have a tough decision to make with regards to Byron Scott at the end of the season. In our previous discussion, the Fear the Sword writers talked about what things they liked and didn't like about Byron's coaching job with the Cavs so far. In this set of questions, we'll speculate about some of the less obvious things. Here we go.


David: Well. I don't know. It appears that at some point a disconnect developed between Byron Scott and Kyrie Irving. How deep or how serious it is or was, I do not know. I know the first time I sensed there might be a problem was a January or February game when Scott pulled all of the starters out after a slow start in the third quarter. It jump-started the team, and the Cavs either won or made it a game (I can't find the specific game now). After the game I remember the post-game interview with Kyrie and he seemed very upset that he had been pulled with the rest of the starters. I don't know who is in the wrong, or what to make of it.

Conrad: All I know is that Byron and Kyrie used to have a very good relationship. It seems as though that relationship has deteriorated over the course of the season. Whether or not that relationship is beyond repair is something that I cannot possibly know. I tend to think that a break after the season and a summer to get their heads straight would fix whatever ails them. Kyrie has some maturing to do.

As for some other players, I don't really care how they feel about Byron Scott. There's only a handful of guys that are a part of this team's core and it's clear that Tristan Thompson is on board with Scott as the head coach. As I've said many times before: if Marreese Speights and Omri Casspi are the type of guys lashing out about Byron Scott, they can catch the first plane out of Cleveland. There's only a few players who need to have good relationships with Byron going forward and obviously Kyrie is the biggest one.

I'll also add that I think any rumors about the team "quitting" on Byron are probably overblown. I think there's a good chance that the constant grind of a tough losing season has had a larger negative impact than any sense of Byron "losing the locker room." Point blank: it's hard to get motivated for game #80 when you've already lost 55 games.

Angelo: After the past few weeks, I can't imagine how you could overlook some of the things he's done/said & tell me that Kyrie Irving hasn't checked out. That's the absolutely worst-case scenario for this team & if it is really is because of Scott, he has to go. End of discussion.

Sam: Yeah, I don't know that I want to get into that. It LOOKS like Scott kinda lost Irving somewhere along the line here at the end of the season, but I want to see more come out before I go into that.

Ben: I have no clue how to judge his relationship with Kyrie Irving. The weird fouls against the Sixers, the non-answers about the locker room quitting, leaving Fan Night early... Are these intentional statements? Are these mistakes 21-year olds make that get blown out of proportion? If Scott has actually lost Kyrie, not to mention the rest of the locker room, that's pretty much it. I'm not sure a coach can come back from players tuning him out.

Boosh: It's hard to speculate about the locker room issues. Kyrie seems to have gone from being a consummate company man to acting like a petulant child at times. Kyrie's recent endorsement came after ominous silence the last couple of times that he has been asked, which reeks of insincerity.

A side effect of this coaching controversy has been that Tristan has stepped up as a leader, at least to the media. If Byron potentially getting fired makes Tristan more assertive, then it may be worth the drama.

Patrick (!!!!!): Byron obviously got a bit too friendly with Kyrie and made a joke about his mom. Seeing as how Kyrie's mom has passed away, this didn't go over so well. Ever since, Kyrie has been playing poorly on purpose in an attempt to get him fired. {Ed note: In other words, we have no idea what happened.}

4. How do you feel about the issue of injuries: excuses or legitimate context?

David: I think it is legitimate. When you have the rookie 17th pick in the draft as your only viable backup at center behind Anderson Varejao, a guy with a long injury history, that isn't the coach's fault. When you go into camp with Jeremy Pargo and Donald Sloan as your backup point guards to Kyrie Irving, that isn't the coach's fault. We were all optimistic about Jon Leuer but that looks pretty silly in hindsight. If you have a bad bench, and the bench become starters because of injuries, your bench becomes a travesty. I think that is basically what has happened in March and April. A healthy Anderson Varejao, and an adequate bench at the beginning of the season and things could have gone very differently.

Conrad: Totally legitimate. I wrote a post pondering how good the Cavs would be if they had had their full team all season long. They lost Anderson Varejao in the midst of his best season yet. Kyrie and Dion Waiters had very little chance to develop chemistry on the court. Coach Scott had a revolving door of available players and that makes it very difficult to develop things as a team, specifically team defense. I think it's a 100% valid reason for why Byron deserves another shot. Quite simply, he rarely got a chance to coach the team that we thought he'd be able to coach. And when he did have that opportunity, they were a pretty darn good team.

Angelo: Excuses. Injuries can justify the overall W-L record, but not in the embarrassing way the Cavs have been losing these games. I don't expect a lot of wins when Andy, Kyrie & Dion all miss significant time, but that doesn't excuse this team not looking competitive & regularly blowing 20+ point leads.

Sam: The injuries are definitely legitimate context. It can't be overstated how much losing Anderson Varejao for the season killed this team. Not only did they lose an all-star caliber big man, but it also forced them to start a player who was clearly not prepared for it (Zeller), and then also decimated their forward depth off the bench. The season obviously swooned once Irving and Waiters got hurt.

Ben: Can I pick both? While there's no doubt in my mind that the Cavs would have more than 24 wins had Kyrie, Dion and Anderson Varejao all played 82 games, I don't know if Scott is necessarily being judged on his W-L record. If the Cavs don't like what they see behind the scenes or mid-game, the injuries don't make a difference.

Boosh: This largely depends on where the order to shut down players comes from. If Coach Scott wants to run Kyrie (and others) out with some of his less severe injuries and the organization has shut him down, then it's a legitimate excuse. If Byron has been complicit in being overly cautious, then it's not.

Scott shouldn't be blamed for losses in which he's had nine available players, eight of which are D-league scrubs. However, he had ample opportunity to win other easily obtainable games to make up for those expected losses. The Cavs have lost an insane amount of games that they had no right losing this year, and injuries can't be blamed for that.

Patrick (!!!?!?!?): I think that the injuries are actually happening, if that's the question. Some of them may have been milked for longer than absolutely necessary, but I don't have a problem with that. It's better to be cautious, especially considering the lost cause this season has become. The only real concern I have regarding injuries is actually the opposite: If Dion is playing with loose cartilage still in his knee, what does that mean? Can that get worse? Will he need surgery eventually? Why is he playing right now if there's a decent chance he could make it worse?


A little later, we'll give our final verdicts on Byron Scott. Should he be fired or not? Also, we'll offer some suggestions for possible replacements. For now, leave your comments and answers to these questions below.