Cavs introduce Byron Scott as Clips talk to James

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Byron Scott fondly remembers winning championships with his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.

The new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers says he's confident LeBron James will choose to contend for NBA titles near his roots, too.

"There's nothing like winning at home," Scott said Friday afternoon at the team's practice facility.

Scott said he didn't try to contact James, respecting his privacy, but spoke to people close to him to gauge what he's like as a person.

"I think at the end of the day, he's going to make the right decision and he'll be here in Cleveland for the rest of his career," Scott said. "His legacy of winning championships in his hometown will be like nothing he's seen in his life."

While Scott was introduced at a news conference, James was hearing a pitch from a fourth team — the Los Angeles Clippers — trying to lure him away from the only franchise he's played for near the place he was born and raised.

The Cavs — with owner Dan Gilbert, general manager Chris Grant and Scott — are scheduled to make their appeal for James to re-sign with the team Saturday morning before the Chicago Bulls become the sixth and final team expected to have an audience with the two-time MVP.

"I've won some championships, so I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to be successful on this level. That'll be the first thing you tell him," Scott said. "One of the other things you tell him is, I think this is the right time, I think I'm the right coach and I think this team has the ability right now to reach the championship."

Scott won three titles as a player with the Lakers. As a coach, he led New Jersey to the 2002 and 2003 NBA finals before going on to coach the New Orleans Hornets for five-plus seasons.

Those qualifications led to the team deciding Scott was a good fit to replace fired coach Mike Brown, who was let go on May 24 after a a five-year run with the club in which the franchise was successful in the regular season and disappointing in the playoffs.

The Cavs settled for Scott after Michigan State coach Tom Izzo turned down a chance to make about $6 million a season in Cleveland, and Lakers assistant Brian Shaw didn't get the job after he appeared to be the favorite this week.

"The coaching search has gone great because we ended up with the right guy," said Grant, who declined to confirm reports that Scott signed a four-year deal.

If the Cavs can't convince James to stay, though, it might not matter who is on their sideline.

Scott insisted the uncertainty surrounding James didn't make him pause when the job was offered.

"I really didn't wrestle with it at all," he said.

Paul Pressey, one of Scott's assistants in New Orleans, will be on his staff with the Cavs.

The 49-year-old Scott said he has evolved as a coach after being fired by the Hornets — nine games into last season — and becoming a head coach for the first time in New Jersey and getting canned midway through his fourth season.

"I learned to listen better," Scott said. "My communication is much better."

Scott seems to have something on his resume James wants from a coach — NBA playing experience — after a solid 14-year career.

He was a teammate of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy on L.A.'s famed "Showtime" teams under coach Pat Riley before choosing to stay in the game as a coach.

Scott started his career on the bench as a Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings assistant, then made his debut as a head coach during the 2000-01 season with the Nets. The native of Inglewood, Calif., was respected and successful enough to be selected the NBA coach of the year in 2008 when the Hornets won a franchise-record 56 games and advanced to the Western Conference semifinals. He has a 352-355 record in the regular season and 33-24 in the playoffs.

"I'm definitely proud coach Scott got that job out in Cleveland," Hornets star Chris Paul said at his charity golf tournament in New Orleans. "I probably was one of the first people to call him and congratulate him — woke him up. I'm really excited for him because coach is family to me, and everybody knows that."


AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland and Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.