Dr. Jean DeKernion, a doctor friend of current UCLA Coach Ben Howland, endorsed Scardino's advice, helping to convince Lavin to treat his cancer through traditional methods.
Howland was sitting next to Lavin inside the gym at St. Anthony's High in New Jersey — both watching blue-chip prospect Kyle Anderson — when Howland dialed DeKernion and handed Lavin his cellphone.
"Six degrees of UCLA," Lavin cracked.
Following surgery in October, Lavin spent six days in recovery and tried to go back to work.
During early-season games, he seemed fairly normal, barking at officials as he charged around the bench area, stressed out as always.
He felt different, though. "At no point was the energy recovering," Lavin said. "You're always tired during the season, but the difference here was there was no regeneration between games."
Scardino advised Lavin to shut it down, to let assistants Mike Dunlap, former Purdue coach Gene Keady and ex-UCLA player Rico Hines direct the games.
St. John's is 7-7 after losing to No. 11 Louisville on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden with Lavin watching from an arena suite.
In a statement, St. John's said university administrators have "made it clear to Steve during this entire process that his health is our utmost concern. . . . We fully expect that Steve will be the St. John's coach and part of the St. John's family for many years and in order to ensure that, his full recuperation is the number one priority."
Whether Lavin will return this season or sit it out entirely has not been determined. He can debate the situation from either side.
"There really is a strong argument for both," he said. "If we're doing good in February and I get a second wind, a clean bill of health and I've suffered no setbacks, it's worth keeping that door open. But if I'm not feeling up to the heavy lifting of coaching, I can stay in this GM role.
"Health has to be the priority. For now, I'm grateful for being cancer-free. I'm celebrating that, and am focused on that. Without your health, nothing is possible."