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Byron Scott took the job in Cleveland hoping for the opportunity to coach LeBron James. It didn't work out, but unlike many in the city James left behind, Scott made it clear he's not going to dwell on it.
After James announced his intention to sign with the Miami Heat, Cleveland inked him to a six-year contract worth $110.1 million, then sent him to the Heat in exchange for future first- and second-round draft choices. Speaking to the media in Las Vegas following the Cavaliers' first game in the NBA Summer League competition, Scott said it hasn't been hard to turn the page.
"I never got an opportunity to coach LeBron, so from an emotional standpoint I had no emotional ties to the whole situation," he said. "Obviously I wanted to be there so I could coach him, but when he made his decision my whole mindset, my gears start shifting to getting ready for Summer League, and then getting ready for our season."
Scott acknowledged the city will need a recovery period, but was pleased to get a team out on the floor, even one made up of only a few players likely to play in Cleveland when the regular season opens.
"It was good to get out and play a game," he said.
The Cavaliers are expected to play a faster brand of basketball under Scott than under former head coach Mike Brown, fired on May 25 after five seasons in the wake of Cleveland's loss to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. A change in tempo is only one way Scott wants to move the Cavaliers into the post-James era.
"Coming in with fresh eyes, fresh ideas, fresh thoughts, a new system, and a new philosophy, I think all those things also will help the guys kind of move forward," he said. "When we get out there, you forget about all the stuff that happened July 8th or 7th or 9th or whatever day that was, and you move forward.
"I hope that a lot of guys are looking at this as an opportunity now to really show their skills."
Scott was one of the multitudes watching James announce his decision, broadcast live on ESPN.
"I was in my office," he said. "I watched the whole thing up until the point where he made his decision, [then] another five minutes and I got my stuff, went to the hotel and started thinking about practice the next day."
The Cavaliers are widely expected to struggle in the wake of James' departure, the mood in Cleveland growing dark in the days following the two-time MVP's announcement. Owner Dan Gilbert was fined $100,000 by the NBA after posting a vitriolic open letter to James on the team's official website, and fans were seen burning James' jersey.
Scott, though, was all smiles Tuesday, expressing only optimism and hope for the task in front of him.
"I'm excited, I really am. I'm looking forward to it."Brian Kamenetzky is a reporter and blogger for ESPNLosAngeles.com.