After being rebuffed in their high-profile, public courtship of Tom Izzo, the Cavs appear close to announcing Lakers assistant Brian Shaw as their next head coach...again. According to reports from both Sam Amick of Fanhouse and the Los Angeles Times, Shaw is nearing terms with the Cavs to fill their coaching vacancy, with Shaw's agent texting that his client was "close to accepting a deal". Indeed, Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski further reports that Shaw spent most of Tuesday afternoon beginning to put his coaching staff in place in Cleveland.
Granted nothing is official yet regarding Shaw (and likely won't be for at least another day, per Brian Windhorst), but it's becoming increasingly clear that the Lakers assistant will be the choice in Cleveland. And after having apprenticed with Phil Jackson the past five seasons as an assistant, Shaw is a very solid, up-and-coming choice for the Cavs...and yet, bringing him in would seem to indicate the Cavs are preparing for life after LeBron. As my colleague Andrew Sharp pointed out when the Shaw rumors first surfaced:
As a coaching hire, Shaw grades out fairly well. But you can't help but wonder, with LeBron James on the brink of free agency, if this isn't a sign that Cavs have conceded he'll go elsewhere.
With James returning, the Cavaliers could have taken a shot at any number of superstar coaches... Or, conversely, if they wanted James to return, the Cavs might have waited, so that James could help them choose between any number of superstar coaches.
Instead, here's Brian Shaw. A solid, respectable, but wholly unremarkable end to the Cavs' coaching search.
Indeed, can you see the Cavs selling LeBron playing for a first-time head coach in the league, when every other free agent suitor can offer better rosters, better markets, and LeBron's choice of coaches (Chicago excluded, which already made a move on first-time head coach Tom Thibodeau).
Shaw's seeming move to Cleveland also hints that Phil Jackson may be returning for a chance at another three-peat in Los Angeles after openly flirting with retirement, given that Shaw was widely viewed as the heir apparent for the Lakers.