By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: Brian Shaw was congratulated once for receiving a Cavaliers coaching job he was never actually offered. Follow along …
Shaw interviewed 12 times for head coaching jobs around the league the past 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 to serve as Mike Brown’s replacement as coach.
Reports began to leak one day in late June 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 [Cavs GM] Chris [Grant] went into another room. I thought that’s what they were doing, or I’m pretty sure that’s what they were doing.”
As those 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 the phone call that doctors had cleared him to coach one more season and then he was definitely 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 Le-Bron 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.”
J.J. Hickson has bounced from the Cavs to the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers the past two years before finally signing as a free agent with the Nuggets.
Hickson’s mental lapses early in his career drove Brown crazy, but he has evolved into an athletic center in the NBA — a position he once resisted with the Cavs.
Hickson said it’s easy for players to tune out Brown’s messages in practice, but now that he’s a few years removed, he seems to have more of an appreciation for his coaching style.
“I know it sounds like a broken record when he talks, but it works,” Hickson said. “He doesn’t have the [championship] rings to show it, but he has the wins. I know it took me a whole year, year and a half, to buy into it, because who wants to come to practice to work on defense? But in this league that’s what wins championships, and that’s something [the players] have to understand. Once I got it, and once a team gets it, that’s when a team makes it far in the playoffs or wins a championship.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.