- Chris Broussard, NBA analyst
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Byron Scott will be named the Cleveland Cavaliers' coach on Thursday, according to a source close to the situation.
The Cavaliers and Scott are finishing the details of a contract that could make him LeBron James' next coach.
Scott's agent, Brian McInerney, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that he and the Cavs are working through some final details, but doesn't expect any problems and that Scott has agreed to become Cleveland's next coach. As of Thursday night, the team was still hoping to officially announce Scott's hiring by the end of the day -- a day James listened to offers from the New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks.
Cleveland decided on the 49-year-old Scott after strongly considering Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, who impressed the Cavaliers during interviews earlier this week.
This would be the third head-coaching job for Scott, who led the Nets to consecutive NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003.
Scott, who coached the Nets from 2001 to 2004, was named Coach of the Year in 2008 after leading the New Orleans Hornets to a surprising 56-win season. He coached the Hornets from 2004 to 2010 and has a 352-355 career record.
Of course, Scott does not know what kind of team he will end up leading. If James re-signs with the Cavaliers, he could have an Eastern Conference contender on his hands. If James goes elsewhere, Cleveland will be in a rebuilding effort similar to the ones he took over in New Jersey and New Orleans.
It is the experiences Scott had in rebuilding those franchises that led him to maintain interest in the Cavaliers' job without assurances that James would return.
In terms of re-signing James, the hiring of Scott would work in Cleveland's favor. James reportedly wants to play for a former player, and Scott was that and then some.
A 6-foot-4 shooting guard, Scott played 14 years in the NBA, winning three championships in his 11 seasons with the Lakers. He teamed with some of the greatest players of all time, including Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and, in Scott's final season, Kobe Bryant.
Scott has maintained a great relationship with Bryant, which is emblematic of another reason he won over the Cavs: his ability to build strong relationships with superstars.
In New Jersey, Scott had a good relationship with Jason Kidd, though Kidd soured on Scott's coaching toward the end of his tenure with the team. And in New Orleans, Scott was close with Chris Paul, one of James' best friends.
Once the deal is finished, it will close a dramatic search to replace Mike Brown, who was fired in May after five seasons in Cleveland.
The Cavaliers initially offered the job to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo. Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert was willing to pay Izzo nearly $6 million a year, but after a long and ballyhooed period of consideration, the NCAA coaching legend decided against accepting without knowing whether James would return.
Scott and Shaw were neck-and-neck for the job Tuesday night and several reports had Shaw as the front-runner. Shaw's agent, Jerome Stanley, told The Associated Press via e-mail late Tuesday night that his client was Cleveland's favored choice, and there were reports that Shaw was assembling a staff to help him in his first head-coaching gig.
Scott's agent even sent out an e-mail congratulating Shaw on getting Cleveland's job.
"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," the e-mail from McInerney read.
The Cavs, however, never offered Shaw the position. Instead, Cavaliers sources said they decided on Scott late Tuesday night and began negotiating with him Wednesday morning. Stanley then called the club Wednesday afternoon, telling them his client was pulling himself out of the running.
According to Stanley, Shaw notified Cleveland brass on Wednesday afternoon he was withdrawing his name from consideration, citing "timing issues."
Shaw's withdrawal opens the door to speculation he may want to remain available if Lakers coach Phil Jackson retires. Jackson informed Lakers spokesman John Black via e-mail late Tuesday night that he intends to stick to his plan of informing the team of his decision by Friday.
Chris Broussard is a senior NBA writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin and The Associated Press was used in this report.
The Cavaliers are in negotiations with Byron Scott to make him Cleveland's next coach, according to league sources.