Tyronn Lue, LeBron James, David Griffin and Dan Gilbert, who reports suggest was the only one on the team supporting Blatt to stay (if he’s the owner and it’s that important to him, he could have just said no, so maybe there are other things at play here); none of them come out smelling of roses from this ordeal, that rocked the NBA world on a Friday afternoon, as Blatt, who went to the NBA finals on his first season as a head coach in the league and his Cavs were 30-11, comfortably leading the East, was fired.
Griffin says it has nothing to do with James or his agent, Rich Paul. Tyronn Lue just happened to seize the opportunity and immediately sign a three-year deal. But the Cavs are expecting us to believe that this has something to do with the locker room falling apart and not responding to Blatt, while Lue had nothing to do with everything? As if he was just standing on the side, with no input whatsoever as to anything happening on the team?
But this team is a championship-caliber team, by Eastern conference standards at least, only due to LeBron James being there. While out West super teams are made through years of drafting, signings and trading, LeBron James is a force of nature, being in the NBA finals five years in a row, and embodies a win swing of 25 or 30 just by signing with a team. It’s not going to be this way forever, so the Cavaliers felt like they had to act quickly. The window for a championship with James eating up all of the salary cap isn’t going to be open forever.
While everyone was caught off guard, Blatt felt it coming. He told people in Israel that the Cavaliers are going to do something big: Either fire him or trade Kevin Love. The loss to the Warriors shook up the organization in a way that made it impossible for him, always an outsider despite being American, to last forever. Not being capable of confronting LeBron made him unpopular with some players. He made plenty of mistakes along the way, and yet it mostly feels like it wasn’t up to him.
For those trying to look at purely basketball reasons, there’s an explanation from coach Nick on Basketball Breakdown on what was wrong with the Cavaliers under Blatt, but it feels like a way to take this into purely basketball terms and reasons, when this decision was on a much more personal level. It’s a good video in any case.
The pressure on an NBA coach to succeed might be greater than before. The moment LeBron James signed with the team and wisely made his presence optional despite his promise to never leave again, it was always championship or bust for the Cavaliers, who felt like they won the lottery all of a sudden. Blatt wasn’t hired to take a team to a championship, and Tyronn Lue was probably there to be groomed, or at least he saw it that way, waiting for his opportunity to get a head coaching job. Whether Blatt was going to be fired or not no matter what? Everyone, or almost everyone in the NBA gets fired. This feels, tastes and smells bad, but if the players weren’t responding to Blatt for whatever reason and the ownership sees this season as win or all or nothing, then firing Blatt could turn out to be the right decision.