The city of Cleveland may still be bitter over LeBron James’ decision to leave the Cavaliers and play for the Miami Heat. But first-year head coach Byron Scott said today he isn’t.
“No,” Scott said when asked if it’s been difficult for him to move on. “I keep stressing this point. When I took this job, I had no emotional ties to LeBron. I never coached him. For me, it’s easy to get over. You can’t be upset or anything about something that you never had. So for me it’s easy to go on day by day and prepare this team and get ready to play.”
Scott, who led the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances when he was their head coach in the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, said it took him about “five to 10 minutes” to get over James’ departure. Then he saw the massive Nike billboard featuring James being taken down while he was driving to the team hotel after a training camp practice.
“That’s when I was like oh man, that’s right,” Scott joked.
Six games into this season, however, he doesn’t know if his players have put it behind them.
“I think they’re over it,” Scott said. “They’ve all moved on; especially the guys that were here with LeBron for a number of years. They’ve understood from the beginning of training camp it’s time to move on.”
Of course, that’s not been the case for the city of Cleveland itself.
“The city’s had a lot of bad breaks,” Scott said. “Now I’m getting a history lesson in some of the things that have happened and I think the city feels a little disrespected at times. I’ve always been a guy who’s been the underdog.”
The Cavaliers (3-3) wouldn’t have been the underdog with James. But without last season’s NBA MVP and second-leading scorer, they are, aside from Mo Williams (20.7 points), merely a mix of role players and talented -- yet inexperienced -- youth.
Still, Scott has placed expectations on his team, even if they might sound unrealistic to prognosticators.
“You guys might think I’m crazy -- I have my own numbers in my head that I’ll probably tell you when the season’s over -- but we have a good team,” Scott said. I’ve said that from day one.
“When I took this job I felt like I was in a win-win situation. With LeBron we were a championship caliber team. Without him, we’re still a very good team.”
A playoff team?
“A team that wants to win,” Scott said. “The players know that and they want that.”
Said Williams: “Everything’s new. New players. A lot of youth. But we’re working extremely hard. And we’re reaping the benefits with a few wins.”
So has it been hard to move forward, despite being constantly bombarded with LeBron questions before and after every game?
“It’s not difficult at all,” Williams said. “It’s just you guys doing your job and we respect that.”
TERRANCE WILLIAMS OUT
Terrance Williams will not play against the Cavs on Tuesday.
Johnson said Williams has been bothered by an abdominal strain. Yesterday, while talking to reporters, he said he felt fine.
The second-year guard out of Louisville has provided a spark for the Nets (2-4) off the bench, averaging 8.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 24 minutes per game.