Laker Assistant Coach Brian Shaw has backed out of negotiations for the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching gig, leaving Byron Scott as extremely likely to get the job. Judging by discussion in the comments of SSR, it seems that this will come as welcome news to many of you. Shaw was reported as saying that he didn't feel comfortable with the Cavs' Thursday deadline to hire a coach, presumably as by then it would be unlikely much (if any) light would be shed on the Free Agent situation and, more importantly, Phil Jackson's decision as to whether or not he will return to the Lakers next season will not be made until Friday.
This insurgence of support for Brian Shaw raises an interesting question: Is the support for Brian Shaw based more on the notion of Brian Shaw's own skills as a coach, or simply on the thought of continuity in the system, a desire to keep the Triangle and Strong-Side Zone, the system the Lakers have been built to run? If Phil Jackson retires and Shaw takes over, continuing to run the Triangle, do you expect to see any major difference in team success or identity? Or will it be the same? Essentially, if Phil retired and Shaw took the reigns, would you be worried? This is especially relevant when one notes many of the arguments, both those for Shaw and those against Scott, center on the concept of continuity.
Shaw has previously been quoted as saying that he is comfortable with his job as Laker assistant coach, commenting that it is 'a better position than many head coaching gigs out there', and it's unlikely he would leave such a position for a job with a team with an extremely uncertain future, one that could end with the team being lottery-bound for several seasons to come. This is especially relevant considering that if Shaw were to take the Cleveland job, he would do so before knowing whether or not the Lakers' head coaching position, arguably the most sought-after in the NBA, was available.
This decision by Shaw to back away from Cleveland comes after a negotiation session where Shaw was said to be very close to accepting the offer (according to his agent), and starting to think about who to hire for his staff, but ended up leaving without a deal in place, potentially due to wanting to delay and wait for Phil Jackson's pending decision on whether or not to retire.
While Shaw pulling out of negotiations with the Cavaliers in itself does not directly imply anything, his comments of being 'uncomfortable' with the Cavs' Thursday Deadline further reinforces the notion that it is unknown whether LeBron will sign with Cleveland, and likely unlikely. While that may be old news, it does also hint to even Shaw being unsure of what Phil's final decision will be regarding retirement.
Around the League: NBA-Wide Offseason News
- Doc Rivers is returning to the Boston Celtics as Head Coach, with a raise from the 5.5 million he was owed for next season. If Phil decides to return to LA, a suggested negotiation ploy would be 'I'm twice the coach Doc is, so I should get twice the money'.
- Richard Jefferson had extraordinarily decided to opt out of the $15.5 million owed to him for next year. There's no way he's going to get that level of money on a per-year basis in a new deal, but opting out may still be a smart move in that he can get more years and more total money through a new deal, particularly considering that if he signs a multi-year deal this offseason, it will likely not be influenced by the new CBA. There's also the fact that the Spurs were a downright bad fit for him, and likely not to be in serious title contention next year. Jefferson may wish to go to a contributor, and the best case for him may be a 5-year MLE deal with the Suns. The style suits him, and provided the Suns keep their core they'll have a good shot to return to the Western Conference Finals with Jefferson.
- Boston may be trying to trade Rasheed's contract away, allowing them to bring in a decent talent whilst keeping their Mid-Level Exception for another player (or players). Rasheed has already stated that he will retire directly after the trade, so Boston is essentially offering free Cap relief to teams. There are several major free-agent players who may be able to use this to their advantage, and simultaneously adding two good players to the Celtics may allow them to contend again next year - another Finals appearance next year is unlikely, but then again the same was being said of this year.
- Amar'e Stoudemire has opted out of his contract with the Suns. No surprises here. The Suns were talking with Stoudemire about the possibility of a contract extension, but that was really just a formality. There is still a chance Amar'e resigns with Phoenix, but simultaneously this decision allows him to assess all his options.
- Dirk Nowitzki has done the same, however it seems extremely likely that he will resign with the Mavericks, possibly without even talking to other teams first. This may be a trend emerging, players giving up guaranteed money in favour of longer deals, as unless the NBA Owners manage to push through a clause in the new CBA rolling back existing contracts (we're more likely to see a full season of lockout), any new contracts signed will not be affected by reductions made by the next CBA, whilst extensions kicking in next season would be.
- The Boston Celtics are after Brad Miller to take Rasheed Wallace's place and strengthen their big man rotation. Miller can shoot and doesn't come with the baggage that 'Sheed did, but he's not as good of a defender, nor is he as dangerous in the post. And he's not really a big mobility or youth upgrade. Boston's targeting of players like him indicate that they're leaning more towards trying to make another run with their current core as opposed to blowing everything up and starting a youth movement centered around Rajon Rondo.
- But there may be problems, now that Paul Pierce has opted out of the 1 year and $17 million left on his contract. Pierce now joins Ray Allen as two of Boston's core players testing free agency. That, coupled with Rasheed Wallace's impending retirement, Kendrick Perkins' injury, and Kevin Garnett's durability issues, will doubtless cause a lot of uncertainty in Beantown.
- The New Jersey Nets have traded Yi Jianlin to the Washington Wizards. They even sent cash along in the deal, meaning the Wizards get Jianlin essentially for free. This deal is beneficial for both sides, the Nets have some more cap space to build a functioning roster around a core free agent, or even to sign two major free agents at slightly under the maximum. The Wizards, meanwhile, get another player capable of contributing, a big man who can shoot, spacing the floor for the likes of John Wall and Gilbert Arenas. The Wizards are shaping into a nice team, with a core of Wall, Arenas, Blatche, Hinrich and Jianlin, but there's no way they make it past the first round without at least retaining Brendan Haywood. Trading away arguably their two best players in recent times to reduce financial burden was for from a good move in terms of contending, even in the long term.
- The Dallas Mavericks are after even more firepower, looking to sign-and-trade for Joe Johnson. It could happen, but when will Cuban learn money can't buy Championships? None of his big moves so far have worked out to the extent he hoped for, from trading for Jason Kidd, to trading for Shawn Marion, to trading for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. They've also got an overload at the wing position, with Marion, Butler and Jason Terry already manning the wing spots, even before looking at executing a sign-and-trade for Johnson.
- Danny Ferry is interviewing for the position of Blazers' General Manager. I'd like to see him employed again, as he did do a good job as a GM, gathering plenty of talent to surround LeBron with, and his decision to resign over trying to woo LeBron James was a classy one, and shows that there are at least a few people in this world who won't bow to the chaos. Still classless how the Blazers fired Pritchard right before the Draft, though. The nerve in asking him to stay and do the Draft for them. If I were him, I would have either picked schlubs, or refused to make the picks.
- The Memphis Grizzlies have now extended Rudy Gay a qualifying offer, serving little purpose asides from making him a Restricted Free Agent and allowing the Grizzlies to match any deal offered to Gay. It seems likely that Gay will end up out of the Grizzlies' price range to retain, as so many teams have been building up cap space for the Free Agent 'Bonanza' that there will inevitably be teams that miss out on the marquee Free Agents, panic, and pick up a consolation prize such as Gay to keep their fans from inciting mob violence.
Marc Stein (ESPN National)
Chad Ford (ESPN Insider)
Rob Baptista/Wondahbap (Silver Screen and Roll)