CLEVELAND: Brian Shaw finally walked into Quicken Loans Arena as a head coach on Wednesday. It nearly happened three years earlier, when he interviewed with Cavaliers ownership and general manager Chris Grant for two days and at one point seemed certain to replace Mike Brown as head coach.
Shaw interviewed 12 times for head coaching jobs around the league the last few years before finally landing the Denver Nuggets job last summer. The fourth or fifth try (he can’t exactly remember) was in Cleveland when the Cavs were balancing LeBron James’ free agency with choosing between Shaw and Byron Scott as the franchise’s next head coach.
Reports began to leak that the Cavs had entered into contract talks with Shaw, prompting Scott’s agent to issue a statement congratulating Shaw on the Cavs’ job. Only one problem: it was never offered to him.
“It was very bizarre,” Shaw said Wednesday. “My agent (Jerome Stanley) and the owners and Chris went into another room. I thought that’s what they were doing, or I’m pretty sure that’s what they were doing.”
As the men left the room, Shaw called Phil Jackson. He was serving as Jackson’s top assistant and seemed next in line to coach the Los Angeles Lakers should Jackson retire. But Jackson told him during that phone call doctors had cleared him to coach one more season, and then he was most certainly retiring.
“That put a different flair to things in trying to weigh if it made more sense to try to wait and see what happened in that situation (in Los Angeles), plus not knowing what was going to happen with LeBron at that point,” Shaw said. “When they came back in the room, they said, ‘We’ll let you know something very soon.’”
When Shaw boarded the plane back to Los Angeles, he received texts from multiple people congratulating him on the Cavs’ job – including one from Scott. Hours later, however, Scott got the job.
“Once I got on the plane to go to L.A., I felt like however it worked out, that (Cavs) job wasn’t going to be my job,” he said. “I think that’s why we met so long, that’s why things happened the way they did. I don’t think they wanted me to get back on that plane and I felt like if I did get back on the plane that it was a done deal I was not going to be here.”