It seems to be déjà vu all over again for the Cleveland Cavaliers. David Blatt was fired today, January 22nd, in just his second season at the helm. Cleveland fans might remember a similar thing happening to one of their coaches six years ago when the Cavs fired former head coach, Mike Brown following a season where, despite not reaching the NBA Finals, they went 61-21, owning the best record in the East.
Blatt has ultimately faced a very similar fate. After leading the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals last season where they fell to Steve Kerr’s Golden State Warriors, the Cavs came into the 2015-16 season with a renewed vigor. They officially have a healthy team of elite talent with LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving and have been surging along in the Eastern Conference yet again to the tune of a 30-11 record, holding a 3.5 game lead over second place, Toronto.
So what led to this change? Many people have speculated that the coaching change came at the behest of Cleveland’s star, LeBron James. It’s no secret that James’s opinions are highly regarded when it comes to his team. The 4x MVP and 2x Champion has always had the best interest for his team (whether Cleveland or Miami) at heart. He’s vocal and expects the same from his fellow players and coaches when it comes to leadership. However, all speculation that LeBron was involved in this Decision can be thrown out the window. As per, ESPN Insider, Brian Windhorst, LeBron was not consulted on the decision to fire Blatt. It remains odd that a Head Coach who is frankly quite respected by many in the NBA was fired so abruptly. Outspoken GM, David Griffin offered his take on the decision to fire Blatt at today’s news conference. Griffin frequently mentioned a disconnect within the organization, that “pretty good” was not good enough, and that he believed in the team possibly more than they believed in themselves. Griffin basically laid it all down, there. The decision to fire David Blatt was more or less his, and his alone. He seemed pretty determined and didn’t mince words in front of the press and stated that the players did not have a say in the decision. What he saw was sufficient enough for him. If you ask me, I’d say this has shades of the recent Chip Kelly firing that I wrote about a few weeks ago.
Who knows what the real story was on Blatt? As far as any fan or spectator could tell, sure there was some “disconnectedness” between the players and the coach, but that will happen with most franchises from time to time, and it can often be worked out of! David Blatt had a great track record as a Head Coach, both abroad in Israel and at home with the Cavs. In 123 games, Blatt went 83-40 with Cleveland, that’s good enough for a .675 win percentage, and though they lost the Finals to Golden State, he did this in his first year with the team (again, not overshadowing the accomplishments of Steve Kerr)! Blatt, in my opinion, has been the best coach that LeBron has played for in the NBA. He has excellent credentials and led this team as best as he could. He is MUCH BETTER than Erik Spoelstra of the Heat who, again in my opinion, is really not much of a coach at all but more of a figurehead, especially when he has James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh on his team. So, yeah I’m kinda peeved at the Cavs organization and Dave Griffin, but what’s done is done. The Cavaliers begin a new chapter tonight with assistant coach, turned head coach (on a multi-year contract no less) Tyronn Lue. Will Lue help this team reach its full potential? I couldn’t tell you. David Griffin seems to think he’s the best coach for this team right now, even if he doesn’t think he’s a “better basketball coach” (GEEZ! Way to instill confidence in your man, Griff!). I look forward to seeing how the rest of this season for Cleveland plays out.
-Tyronn Lue signed a 3 year contract worth at least $9.5 million, as per Adrian Wojnarowski
-GSW Head Coach, Steve Kerr returns to the bench for the first time this year, following an extensive recovery from offseason back surgery, the Warriors are 39-4 on the year