Byron Scott didn’t sign up for this. And if the Cleveland Cavaliers’ collapse gets much worse, future franchise building block J.J. Hickson won’t re-sign up for it, either.
The Cavs’ losing streak stretched to eight games last night when they were routed in Oklahoma City. Seven of the losses have been by double-digits, and four have been by at least 20 points. Last week, first-year coach Scott — who accepted the Cleveland job when the franchise still appeared to have a good chance of re-signing LeBron James — overhauled the starting lineup and said the new group had about one week to show him something. Last night, he said the bench hasn’t been doing its part.
After a 22-point Thunder first-half lead had been cut to 10 by starters Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson, Anthony Parker, Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao in the third quarter, the Cavs’ second unit allowed it to swell back to 28 in a span of about four minutes.
”I have to find a combination of that second unit that’s going to come in and play the right way and do the right things,” Scott was quoted in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer after the game. “As soon as all five guys are off the floor, we’re getting slaughtered.”
Hickson, a former starter who had nine points in 24 minutes off the bench (and got crowned by James Harden) last night, couldn’t resist a snappy response when asked about it by reporters.
“Oh, so he’s blaming it on the bench?” Hickson asked. “If (Scott) feels that way, then that’s the way he feels. That’s his opinion.”
Hickson is viewed as one of the Cavs’ few valuable assets in the post-LeBron era, but he and Scott aren’t exactly enjoying a Duncan/Poppovich relationship. The 22-year-old power forward (10.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg) can become a restricted free agent in 2012 unless Cleveland inks him to a contract extension. The Cavs are always going to have a hard time getting elite free agents to sign with them — and owner Dan Gilbert‘s public ripping of LeBron didn’t help their cause — so keeping as many talented draftees in-house is crucial. Whatever needs to happen for Hickson and Scott to avoid a toxic situation and get on the same page, somebody in the organization needs to make it happen.
What do you think? What is wrong with the Cavs?