The Cleveland Cavaliers are closing in on a coach.
Brian Shaw appears to be their target.
The Los Angeles Lakers assistant completed two days of interviews with the Cavs, who have not yet offered Shaw — or anyone else — a contract to replace Mike Brown as their coach, a person familiar with Cleveland’s search told The Associated Press.
The team is "not negotiating" but has narrowed its field of candidates to "two or three," said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the club is not publicly discussing its coaching situation. The person said the team is "excited" to be nearing a decision on a coach but will not be making any announcements on Tuesday – two days before it attempts to re-sign free agent superstar LeBron James.
Shaw is the new front-runner. He returned to Los Angeles without a contract offer, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be coming back to Cleveland.
A 14-year NBA veteran and five-year assistant to Phil Jackson, Shaw, who has won five championship rings, arrived on Monday to meet with owner Dan Gilbert. Shaw has never been a head coach, but the Cavs took a similar risk five years ago with Brown, who led the club through its most successful stretch before he was fired last month.
It’s possible the Cavs have worked on the parameters of a contract with Shaw, but aren’t quite ready to make it official.
Earlier, Shaw’s agent, Jerome Stanley, indicated the sides were moving toward an agreement by telling the Los Angeles Times by text that Shaw was "close to accepting deal" with the Cavs.
The team was recently snubbed by Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who rejected a reported $30 million to jump to the NBA in part because the Cavs couldn’t guarantee him that James would be back. Cleveland has also had informal talks with former New Orleans coach Byron Scott.
Scott’s agent, Brian McInerney, indicated his client is no longer interested in Cleveland’s vacancy and wished Shaw well in an e-mail to the AP.
"Coach Scott welcomes Coach Shaw into the ranks of head coaching, and as a Laker family brother, wishes him the best, until the final two minutes of any game where they are competing against each other," McInerney wrote.
Both Shaw and Scott are believed to be strong candidates to replace Jackson if the 11-time champion retires. Jackson is expected to announce his plans this week.
Brown was fired on May 24, 11 days following the Cavs’ second-round playoff loss to Boston.