David Blatt appeared to be adjusting quite well to the NBA culture in his second season as the Cleveland Cavaliers head coach. Now he is out of a job.
The Cavaliers fired Blatt on Jan. 22, despite the second-year coach having led the team to 30-11 start to the season. General manager David Griffin promoted assistant coach Tyronn Lue to replace Blatt as the head coach.
Since LeBron James decided to come back to the Cavaliers in the summer of 2014, there has been repeated speculation that Blatt and James did not see eye-to-eye.
Players within the locker room besides James also said they believed Blatt appeared to be in over his head when it came to being an NBA coach.
After all, Blatt was brought in to lead a young team to try and make the playoffs. Once James announced he was heading back home, the stakes were suddenly raised for everyone within the Cavaliers organization.
More often then not James, as well as other players on the team, appeared to gravitate to Lue then Blatt to discuss what was happening in a game or practice situations. Lue is an ex-NBA player who played under Phil Jackson and was an assistant under Doc Rivers so it is safe to say Lue is knowledgeable when it comes to the NBA landscape.
Firing your head coach mid-season while in the midst of a championship run is something that just does not happen that often, if ever in professional sports. The release of Blatt while holding the best record in the Eastern Conference just goes to show you how serious the Cavaliers are about trying to win now.
The move to change head coaches also came just four days after the Cavaliers were ran out of their home gym by the Golden State Warriors on national television.
The mood in the locker room was not what Griffin imagined on a team that is best in the East and figured a move needed to be made in order to try and change the vibe in the locker room.
Griffin told the media in a press conference, “I have never seen a locker room not be as connected after wins as they need to be. We’ve only been galvanized when expectations were not high.”
When players were called to the teams’ practice facility on their off day, some had expected Kevin Love was traded and were all surprised to find out their coach was fired.
Lue wants the Cavaliers to play at a faster tempo and the team seems to be responding well to what Lue is preaching so far. The Cavaliers have won five straight games and averaged 114.2 points in those five victories under Lue.
It is only a small sample size, but this new brand of basketball under Lue appears to be working for this Cavaliers team. The teams’ new style of basketball was on display for most impressive win came this past Saturday when they rolled over the San Antonio Spurs 114-103.
Now that Blatt is no longer the coach, the Cavaliers players will have no one to blame but themselves if they come of short of winning a championship. The road to NBA Finals runs through Cleveland at the moment and it appears they are the odd-on favorite to return to the Finals for a second year in a row, barring they stay healthy.
Winning for the Cavaliers starts and ends with their ‘Big 3.’ From reports it appears that Blatt did not hold all players to the same level of accountability. For the Cavaliers to get where they envision themselves being, all players must be held to the same standards.