CLEVELAND — Four days ago, Byron Scott was on the hot seat.
At least, that was the skinny on the Internet and all the sports talk radio stations.
The Cavaliers had lost 10 straight and looked about as tough as five cuddly kittens when it came to defense and rebounding.
But Sunday, the Cavs came from behind to scoot past visiting Orlando by a 91-85 count. It was their second straight victory, their second straight rugged defensive effort, their second straight solid second half.
Granted, the Magic stink, but that’s really neither here nor there when it comes to Scott’s security as Cavs coach.
The things folks actually take into account: The Cavs’ overall record (24-52), what the defense looks like, and mostly, whether young players such as Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller are progressing.
Scott doesn’t deserve all the blame or credit for any of that. But he’s gonna get most of both, anyway. That just comes with the job, kids.
So is Scott more secure today? Was he really not secure yesterday — or more specifically, during the losing streak?
Or is his standing the same as it ever was, with Scott fronting a process that’s always been expected to take several years?
Well, here’s the answer: We have no clue.
How’s that for shedding light on the situation?
Basically, all we know is Scott will be the Cavs’ coach for the final six games. That, and his contract doesn’t expire until the end of next season.
But this is the NBA, and coaches’ contracts typically mean little. They don’t count toward the salary cap, so if you do away with them, there’s no penalty beyond the owner’s pocketbook. If you can afford an NBA team, that’s not really a penalty at all.
As for Cavs owner Dan Gilbert … well, we haven’t heard anything regarding Scott. Same goes for general manager Chris Grant.
Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, silence is indeed the best option. That’s especially the case when a mere nine days remain in the regular season. You can address the coach, and the entire roster, when it ends.
Still, it might be nice for Gilbert or Grant to do just that. The Scott situation should be talked about by the people who matter, the people who make the decisions. If not now, then certainly next week.
It’d be one thing if no one else was talking about it. Instead, it’s almost the entire focus of everyone who covers and watches the team.
And it’s dangerous to leave the rumor-mongering in the hands of folks who sit behind a keyboard for a living. They speculate, the fans pile on, and Scott’s name suddenly becomes part of an undesirable Twitter hashtag.
Some of the players have already talked about Scott, as the media just won’t let the topic die. Thompson came out in support of his coach, and has played like he meant it ever since — finishing with 15 points and 16 rebounds vs. the Magic.
Meanwhile, Irving more or less skirted the issue when he told a handful of reporters he’s staying clear of anything involving his coach’s status.
“I’m not going down that road,” Irving said. “I’m focused on finishing the season with him and that’s all that matters right now.”
Gilbert or Grant don’t really have to say anything more than that. If they don’t want to go with “Scott is our man,” they could always say something along the lines of evaluating everything in the offseason, “just like we always do.”
In Grant’s defense, he’s been away on a scouting trip. In Gilbert’s defense, he leaves such matters to his GM.
So this is hardly an indictment of either. They’re handling the Scott situation well.
But some of the people who cover and follow the team are not. They’re merely handling it like people who cover and follow the team are inclined (and even paid) to do.
That leads to questions and uncertainty.
So, yeah, Scott could use a boost right now. Winning certainly helps in that department — but three last-place finishes in the Central Division in Scott’s three years does not.
Within the next two weeks, we’re likely to know more. In the meantime, it’d be nice for Scott to get a little vote of confidence from the people in charge.
Necessary? No. Nice? Yes.
And it’d be nice not just for the people who follow the team, but for the players who make up the roster and the very subject of the rumors himself.