After the Cavaliers close the regular season tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats, dramatic changes are coming to the organization. The most burning question pertains to the future of coach Byron Scott and whether this will be his last game on the bench.
Scott has one more year on his contract and no one within the organization has publicly or privately declared this to be his final game, but all indications are privately pointing to Scott being fired Thursday.
Either way, one high-ranking official said the decision will be made quickly. When he meets with reporters Thursday for his end-of-season news conference, General Manager Chris Grant is expected to either definitively declare Scott the coach for next season or he will have already been fired.
Scott was adamant after the loss Monday to the Miami Heat that he expects to return next season as coach.
“I am going to be back to coach them next year,” Scott said.
He hasn’t been told that by anyone in the organization, but “I’ve got a year left on my contract, that’s how I figure it, unless I’m told differently. That’s how I approach it.”
It has been a turbulent finish to his third season in charge, from players privately questioning his practice habits and in-game strategies to the peculiar behavior of his star player.
Kyrie Irving apologized through his Twitter account Tuesday after he snubbed fans during the Fan Appreciation ceremony after the game Monday. All players were expected to remain on the court to give selected fans their game-worn jerseys and shoes, but Irving sprinted off the floor and into the locker room after he was stripped by the Heat’s Norris Cole on the game’s final play.
“I want to personally apologize to all the Cavs fans for my actions yesterday,” Irving wrote Tuesday. “It was truly unfair to you guys. I’m very appreciative for all of you guys. Your love and passion for the organization and city is what pushes me to be great.”
The Cavs diagnosed Irving with a bruised right foot after the game because, a team source said, Irving walked directly into the trainer’s room within the Cavs locker room and asked to have his foot examined by Dr. Richard Parker and trainer Max Benton.
That makes Irving’s awkward questioning of the injury that much more curious. When it was announced to reporters that he had a bruised right foot, Irving said sarcastically, “That’s what I have? Oh, when was someone going to tell me that? I’m hurt again? [Darn]. How long am I going to be out, 4 to 6 weeks?”
Asked directly when he was injured, Irving responded, “They said I have a bruised heel, but I’m fine. I felt it in the first half. Felt something in my heel, but I’m OK.”
The odd scene Monday followed a mental blunder Sunday when Irving forgot how many fouls he had in the Cavs’ dismal loss at Philadelphia. He needlessly grabbed Evan Turner of the 76ers just 90 seconds into the second half for his second foul of the third quarter and, more important, his fifth foul of the game.
Irving said afterward that he didn’t realize he had three fouls at the half and thought he only had two, so he thought grabbing Turner was his fourth foul when in fact it was his fifth. Scott took him out immediately, and because of the score, he did not play the rest of the game.
Irving gave a strange, lukewarm endorsement of Scott when asked recently about the prospects of his coach being fired. But asked again directly Monday night if he wanted Scott to return, Irving said, “Absolutely, I do want Coach Scott back.”
That decision will be one of many the Cavaliers face this summer. With only six guaranteed contracts on the books for next season and as many as four picks in this upcoming draft, another roster overhaul is likely.
The most pressing question, however, pertains to Scott’s future. That should be answered shortly.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.