INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – Byron Scott never dreamed he'd be coaching Baron Davis a second time. For a while, he wasn't sure they'd ever speak again.
Once together in New Orleans, the hard-headed, old-school coach and volatile player clashed — about everything. Scott and Davis rarely saw things eye to eye, leading to a messy separation that seemed irreparable. They've supposedly mended their relationship.
The Cavaliers better hope so.
One of the NBA's top point guards when motivated, Davis was acquired by the rebuilding Cavaliers along with an unprotected 2011 first-round draft pick on Thursday from the Los Angeles Clippers for guard Mo Williams and forward Jamario Moon.
With the league's worst record, the Cavs, who are trying to regain their footing without superstar LeBron James, now own two first-round and two second-round picks in June's draft. They plan to use those selections to replenish their roster and regain relevancy.
"Our organization is excited," Scott said. "We're ready to get started."
Scott and Davis are starting over.
When the two were with the Hornets, Scott and Davis butted heads. Byron didn't like Baron and vice versa. At one point, Scott banned Davis' personal trainer from the Hornets' training facility. While the rest of the team stretched indoors before practice, Davis and his trainer worked outside in the parking lot.
Eventually, Scott pushed for Davis to get traded to Golden State, a move that led to the Hornets drafting All-Star Chris Paul in 2005.
Scott thought he and Davis would remain distant, but two years ago they patched up their differences in a parking lot before a preseason game. Davis told Scott he had written him a letter to apologize, but decided to say he was sorry in person.
"He wanted to apologize for some of the things that happened in New Orleans," Scott said. "He felt that he understood now that I was just trying to make him a better basketball player. I can be tough on guys at times. I don't think he accepted it at that particular time, but he said he's matured."
Scott was moved by Davis' heartfelt gesture.
"I was very touched. I was speechless," he said. "My wife was sitting next to me and I was like, 'Wow, I can't believe that he came to me and apologized for everything and said some of the things he said.' He gave me a big hug and said, 'I love you and thank you for everything.' I was shocked. From that point on, the relationship has been very good."
The Cavs, who with owner Dan Gilbert's blessing are taking on Davis' $29 million contract over the next two years, need that bond to remain strong.
They're counting on Davis to come in, play well and be a good citizen. They'd also like the 31-year-old, who was ejected in the closing seconds of the Clippers' recent game in Cleveland, to help develop young guard Ramon Sessions.
Davis comes with a reputation for being difficult. He showed up for training camp this season out of shape. He can't be happy about being uprooted from his hometown to join the NBA's worst team. Just last weekend in L.A., he was tossing a pass through the sunroof of a car to Clippers teammate Blake Griffin in the All-Star slam dunk contest.
Now, Davis is headed to Cleveland — not exactly known for its beaches or nightlife.
Scott trusts Davis will embrace his new situation.
"I hope he looks at this as an opportunity again to put all the doubters and change everybody's mind over the type of guy he is and type of player he is," Scott said. "This is a fresh start for him."
The Cavaliers expect Davis to arrive Friday and take his physical.
Scott said he had no reservations about adding Davis to the roster. The first-year coach and Cavs general manager Chris Grant had several conversations in the past few days about bringing on Davis and came to the consensus that it would help the team.
"The second chance of getting to coach him now that we know each other and we've put all that other stuff under the bridge, I'm excited about it," Scott said.
Grant was aggressive trying to improve the Cavs, who haven't had much to celebrate since James bolted last summer as a free agent for Miami. They've been ravaged by injuries and recently set a record by losing 26 straight games, tying the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the longest skid in pro sports history.
Now armed with two high draft picks — odds are both will be in the Top 10 — and a $14 million trade exception, the Cavs and their fans have some hope.
Scott credits Gilbert for putting a premium on winning.
"I've never been around an owner that's sole existence right now on earth is to win," Scott said. "He doesn't care what it costs him. It's unbelievable to be around a guy who has that type of conviction."
Grant spoke with multiple teams about a variety of deals but made only one other move, sending a second-round pick in 2013 to Boston for rookie forward Luke Harangody and first-year center Semih Erden.
The Clippers are taking on Williams' $9.3 million contract this season. Moon's $3 million contract expires after this season, and the Cavs were probably going to buy him out.
Williams is getting another fresh start. Acquired by the Cavs before the 2008 season from Milwaukee, Williams was deeply troubled by James' decision to leave. He's battled injuries all season, but the Clippers are confident he can make them better.
"Mo has experience where he can control the game for us and get guys in the right spots," said coach Vinny Del Negro. "He's been in big games, he's a very good free throw shooter and he makes big shots. And that's what we needed. He was the right fit for us."