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Cavaliers dream big, will settle in finding a replacement coach

May 24, 2010, 9:02 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for pjackson.jpgMike Brown is out. The Cavs have a decision to make. And they can’t afford to screw it up.

Look at the best coaches being interviewed around the league for the current job openings: Avery Johnson, maybe Celtics defensive guru Tom Thibodeau is in there.

That is not good enough for the Cavaliers. They need a name. A star. They need someone that LeBron James would stay in town to play for. And you can bet they have a list — no team fires a coach without having replacements in mind. Despite how it looks with the Bulls handling of their search, even they had a list.

So who is on the Cavs list?

Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the dream starts with Phil Jackson. The theory goes that Jackson is being asked to take a pay cut by the Lakers, he might feel spurned and start looking around. And if someone else wants to pay him, maybe he’ll leave. He certainly would be the ideal coach to teach LeBron about what it takes to win, to get over the hump in the playoffs.

But it’s not going to happen. Well, 99 percent (although one percent is enough to fuel dreams). While Jackson has not decided, those close to him do not think he’s leaving a championship contending team and the city where his girlfriend Jeanie Buss lives. Jackson is comfortable, and his next step is far more likely to be to his ranch in Montana.

Then there is Mike Krzyzewksi — every member of Team USA wants him as his pro coach. He is a name. And he also isn’t leaving Duke, either. Not even up for debate.

The more likely names are Jeff Van Gundy and Byron Scott. Those are two experienced coaches who have won as NBA coaches — not titles, but they have been on the doorstep. They have experience with some of the biggest and best players in the game. And they would be hungry for the chance to coach LeBron. Any smart coach realizes how key he is to winning.

Then there is John Calipari, the Kentucky coach with ties to LeBron (through Williams Wesley and CAA). Who knows if he can succeed as an NBA coach the second time around, but if he can keep LeBron in a Cavaliers uniform that will be paramount.

After that, the Cavaliers would need another big name or they would be settling. If Lawrence Frank or Dwane Casey or Thibodeau or Johnson becomes the top candidate, well then a lot of people have turned the Cavaliers down. And it would feel more and more like LeBron will as well.

  1. ocgunslinger - May 24, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    All interesting speculation but in my mind James is gone. Who knows where, Chicago, New York, Miami or Los Angeles but I think he is going to want a fresh start and it will probably be best for him anyway. I think Chicago is going to be his new home.

  2. Had it in CLE - May 24, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    I think it is in the Cavs best interest to find a coach that has won championships in the past. Who has coached a Cleveland team, in any of the three pro sports, that has actually been to the promised land in the last 30 years? Lenny Wilkens is the only coach that comes to mind.
    Start bringing winners to this town and maybe we will have a chance. We don’t need over the hill winners like Shaq. We need a team nucleus that will be able to keep up with each other whether LeBron stays or not. The Cavs played some of their best ball when they were running. Great defense offers great fast break opportunities but when you only have two guys on the floor fast enough to keep up with each other you can blow a lot of these opportunities.
    They better be damn sure that their locker room is in order. For a team that bragged about how close they were they looked like a bunch of children that had their ball taken away when playing Boston.
    Then there is the jinx, hex, dark cloud or whatever you want to call it over Cleveland and we will never win a championship again. I don’t care how many times indoor soccer is mentioned.

  3. Farhan - May 24, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    Why would Lebron want to go to Chicago? If he goes to Chicago he will always be considered number 2 behind MJ. He will never break any records there as MJ has done it and better. Every time he goes in the stadium he will not see a Lebron banner but a MJ statue, the ceilings will show every day that he will never be the best, Chicago is Jordan’s home and it will never be Lebrons.
    Lebron needs to take this trash somewhere else, he is not wanted in Chicago. We only need winners – I’d rather take Dwade.

  4. Tommy Paul - May 24, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    Maybe Lebron needs to invite the fab 5 to Cleveland. That would be Wade, Bosh, Melo, Nash and the coach of his choice. His legacy will never be matched! He needs to suck it up and set an example by not running away. He should think about integrity, setting the right example and making things happen in Cleveland. If he does these things and wins in Cleveland, his legacy will eclipse Mike’s as well as many others from all sports. So, Lebron, if you really take yourself seriously, put your best efforts forward and make things happen in Cleveland. You can do it but you need to suck it up and do the right thing.

  5. Matt - May 24, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    Tommy Paul.
    I can say the same about D-Wade. He should do the same and stay in Miami. He needs to suck it up and set an example by not running away. He should think about integrity, setting the right example and making things happen in MIAMI.

  6. Edward, Los Angeles, CA - May 24, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    “Why would Lebron want to go to Chicago? If he goes to Chicago he will always be considered number 2 behind MJ.”
    The thinking goes, that if Lebron goes to Chicago then he would be the Larry Bird to Bill Russell in Boston. In other words, a continuation of great players by a sports franchise and not necessarily a replacement.

  7. Tommy Paul - May 24, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    Edward, good call! I guess the problem is that all these guys want a championship ring. And… the way other teams are enticing them is to promise them that they will be surrounded by the best talent money can buy. While I wish them all well, I do believe they should stay where they are. That being said, if the respective owners really want a championship ring, they should walk their talk and try to make it happen within their own team.

  8. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 24, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    Legacy that would exceed Jordan’s? Geez dude, that would mean AT LEAST SIX RINGS!!! That would be a stretch so dream on… by the way, pass me that splif you’re puffing…

  9. Tommy Paul - May 24, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    While the players, in the NBA, need to realize that Micheal, Larry and Magic paved the way for huge paydays for today’s players, Lebron is today’s superstar. If he behaves himself and practices humility, he will be right up there with the best that ever played the game. I mean no disrespect for Micheal but meant to show respect for Micheal and to state that Lebron could have the same economic impact such as Micheal. I don’t think rings alone best describe one’s impact on a sport or entity. Character, integrity, providing hope to others and inspiring people to be the very best they are capable of means more to me than raw talent alone.
    I do agree with you that 6 titles to zero means Micheal wins this one. But Lebron can surely set the bar for himself if he focusses on the big picture and does things for the good of all concerned.

  10. OldtimeClevefan - May 24, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    What nobody is saying and I hope LJ is seeing while Boston mangles the “Magic”, is that yes, we have issues. MB was lethargic in changing up the “D” and “O” schemes when Boston would run on us and LJ looked like a scared little kid most of the time during the games we lost. But Boston is playing basketball better than ANYONE ELSE IN THE NBA right now. They look faster, smarter and better prepared than their opponents and they are motivated by the “age factor” looming so strongly over that team. LJ needs to man up, tell Danny and Dan what he thinks we need, everyone evaluate and build around the proven weakness we have and keep the momentum. If he goes anywhere except a LA or another loaded team he will start over and add 3-6 years frustration to his career. And as so many have proven before, even greener grass don’t mean you will get the ring. Prove your love and care for NE Ohio and step up and hit the three to win it all. Bail and you will just be another excuse for Cleveland and noi matter how much you win elsewhere, you will always be a stain on your home, family and legacy, if you end up with one.

  11. Lenny Winkins? - May 24, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    Hey “Had it in CLE”, are you serious about Lenny Wilkins?!?!?! REALLY? And while at it, how about signing World B. Free as our point guard?

  12. lebron-fan - May 24, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    It amazes me how you all talk about loyaly, integrity and being true to the CAVS team..What about being true to yourself? The ultimate goal of every NBA player is to win a ring. With the current roster of the CAVS, there will be no ring. No one in the starting line-up of the Cavs with the exception of LeBron can walk on to any other roster and start…including SHAQ. For years, the CAVs have made piss poor trades and gotten discount/reject players from other clubs and expected Lebron to make them a championship team. That is BS!!! Why should he be loyal to a fan base that “BOO-ed” him in the arena when they lost? Where is their loyalty? It seems to me that the people in Cleveland and the CAVs management need to “man-up” and spend the money to make a real team and give LeBron the help he needs; or wish him luck on his new endeavor and new home. The slogan for the NBA play-off is win or go home..in this case he didn’t win, so he needs to find a new home… A home where he can reach his maximum potential!

  13. lebron-fan - May 24, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    It amazes me how you all talk about loyalty, integrity and being true to the CAVS team. What about being true to yourself? The ultimate goal of every NBA player is to win a ring. With the current roster of the CAVS, there will be no ring. No one in the starting line-up of the Cavs with the exception of LeBron can walk on to any other roster and start…including SHAQ. For years, the CAVs have made piss poor trades and gotten discount/reject players from other clubs and expected Lebron to make them a championship team. That is BS!!! Why should he be loyal to a fan base that “BOO-ed” him in the arena when they lost? Where is their loyalty? It seems to me that the people in Cleveland and the CAVs management need to “man-up” and spend the money to make a real team and give LeBron the help he needs; or wish him luck on his new endeavor and new home. The slogan for the NBA play-off is win or go home; in this case he didn’t win, so he needs to find a new home… A home where he can reach his maximum potential!

  14. Omnius - May 24, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    Phil Jackson won’t be leaving the Lakers anytime soon, he has the best fringe benefit of all time – Jeanie Buss. Even with a paycut the ZenMaster will remain in LA because he wants to win championships and Kobe and team are his way to do just that. It will be interesting to see which unemployed coach will be suckered into becoming the Cleveland Cadavers next coach, only to watch LeBoring James bail out for more money.

  15. OneCavsFan - May 24, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    Why would we need Phil Jackson, and why would Phil Jackson want to relocate to Cleveland.
    LeBron distanced himself from the Mike Brown decision for one simple reason: He ain’t coming back.

  16. UCrazy - May 24, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    @ LeBron-fan
    Are you saying Mo and Antwan couldn’t be starters? There is more parity in these league then you care to realize… Not many teams have more than 1 or 2 players that will be “walk-on” starters anywhere they go. The job has to be earned, unless you are one of the top 2-3% of the league’s talent. They boo’d him because he played like crap for a majority of the post-season, and that’s not what we expect of him being that we are PAYING customers, buying the product they put on the floor. And your comment about needing to “man up” and pay the money, we have one of the highest payrolls in the NBA, and an owner who WILL do whatever it takes. Bringing in players to a franchise is not like shopping at Walmart… you don’t just pick what/who you want. There’s the player, the agent and the team (sometimes 2 or more in a trade) that all need to agree to terms. It’s just not that simple…

  17. mke - May 24, 2010 at 3:52 PM

    why would anyone want a player that quits in the middle of a series, and lets his coach take the fall… lebron should go back to street ball… there his attitude wouldn’t be noticed.

  18. wizard of Ozola - May 24, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    LBJ wants the big $$ from national ad sponsors. THAT MEANS ON NY OR LA OR CHICAGO. So he goes to Clippers, , they hire Magic Johnson to Coach and Show time is back !Baron Davis will run his old Golden State run and gun O and Clippers get back their super rookie from knee surgery. They will be like the Thunder but more HEAVY THUNDER !!.

  19. Peter Coover - May 24, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    If the NBA does’nt do something about all of those crooked ref’s
    the fan base has had enough. They should’nt have an effect on the
    outcome of any game. It’s getting worse every year and now most
    all of the games are pay for view. The elderly and shutins are
    shutout. How can you contiue to pay the players those outrages
    salary’s without fan’s. Dollars rule this game in the big mkt’s
    and that is who the NBA wants to win. Clean up the sport before
    it’s to late

  20. Anonymous - May 24, 2010 at 7:49 PM

    It is obvious you are one of “THE WISHERS” who want LJ on your team. And to be like every other player in the NBA and run for a ring and the glamour. It is important and he deserves his shot at a ring and will get it more than the average guy because of his skills. And what about the balance of the Cavs that has been good enough to rule the reg season and get home court for 2 years. So they must stack up against someone in the league. The problem is mental prep and experience getting a team ready and making the adjustments in a playoff scenario and MB did not fit the bill. MJ did not win till he got Jackson. Kobe the same. You need leadership and a presence with your men to LEAD THEM not ride LJ and look for the luck. And by the way, THE ENTIRE SYSTEM IS PRE SET FOR TV AND LEAGUE REVENUE and Cleve just aint as glamorous as LA/Boston.

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