INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — When people asked for my take on Byron Scott before the season, I said two things:
1. It’s not often a coach misses the playoffs for three straight years and holds on to his job.
2. The Cavaliers’ bad losses at home need to end.
Neither happened, and Scott was fired Thursday.
Scott’s first problem was the Cavs’ defense. Not only did opponents regularly shoot close to 50 percent against the Cavs, they often did it on the Cavs’ own floor.
Of the Cavs’ 27 home losses this season, 13 came by 10 points or more.
And as you know, no lead was ever safe with the Cavs — as they blew double-digit advantages like it was a start-of-the-season mission.
The biggest, of course, came at The Q, when the Cavs had LeBron James and hated Miami down by 27. And the Cavs lost anyway.
That was likely the start of Scott’s downfall in the eyes of management. The fact the Cavs later blew a 14-point lead at home vs. Boston and a 20-pointer in the fourth quarter at Indiana probably sealed his fate.
Whether Scott had players who could actually defend doesn’t really matter — not in the world of pro sports. Nor does the fact Scott’s key guys were in their first or second seasons. And even those could barely stay healthy.
Basically, for Scott, this was a no-win situation in which (surprise, surprise) he didn’t win.
Now, I like Scott. Before he came to Cleveland, he was my favorite guy in the league. Not just among coaches, either. I’m talking the coolest, most grounded individual I had encountered — coaches, players, mascots, anyone.
He was the coolest, most-grounded guy when he left, too. Basically, nothing changed. Scott is just a solid-all-around individual.
The Cavs and their fans (and especially, the media) will certainly miss that side of him, and general manager Chris Grant admitted as much when addressing reporters.
“It’s a very difficult day, personally and professionally,” Grant said.
Many of the players seemed surprised, even a little hurt, by the decision as well.
“I feel like a piece of me is missing,” Irving said. “I’m trying to get over the loss of my basketball father.”
But again, the Cavs had their reasons.
Making the playoffs was never really a major goal (although the Cavs weren’t against it). So that leaves their issues buckling their knees and shuffling their feet as the No. 1 reason Scott is out of the job.
“We just were not seeing the progress on a day-to-day basis,” Grant said. “I will say defensively, we need to be better.”
Grant broke the news to Scott on Thursday morning, just hours after the regular-season finale. That was a loss at Charlotte — completing a run in which the Cavs had won just twice in their final 18 games.
Injuries, defensive breakdowns and what appeared to be team apathy ruled that stretch, and to be honest, most of Scott’s tenure.
Was it all Scott’s fault? Of course not.
Still, the Cavs are banking on the idea that it can end with a change on the sidelines. That makes them no different than most everyone else in pro sports.
Agree or disagree with the coaching side of things, it’s hard to argue that Scott the person will be missed.
But the person side of things never really counts in this business, and it probably shouldn’t.
This is always about wins and progress. With Scott, the Cavs decided they hadn’t seen enough of either.