(ESPN) The Cleveland Cavaliers have fired second-year coach David Blatt and are replacing him with assistant Tyronn Lue, according to ESPN sources and multiple reports.
The title-hopeful Cavaliers lead the Eastern Conference at 30-11 but were blown out by the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Monday. Blatt had lost support of the locker room over the past month, sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
Associate head coach Tyronn Lue, Blatt’s top assistant, signed a three-year contract Friday to be the team’s head coach, according to Yahoo! Sports, which also first reported Blatt’s firing.
LeBron James was not consulted before the Cavaliers made the move to dismiss Blatt and was informed of the decision Friday, sources told Windhorst. The decision to fire Blatt was “entirely” up to general manager David Griffin, a league source told ESPN.com.
Griffin is expected to speak to the media at 5:45 p.m. ET.
A team source told ESPN.com that Lue is a natural choice to assume the head-coaching job as his influence within the Cavs was already pronounced from his assistant position.
“I think it was pretty evident,” the source said. “All the guys went to him for everything anyway.”
James’ fondness for Lue and his desire to be coached by a former player also were well known in the organization, sources told Windhorst.
Sources told ESPN’s Chris Broussard that many Cavs players, especially the veterans, felt like Blatt was in over his head as coach. They questioned whether he knew the league well enough to lead them to a championship.
Blatt’s firing comes one day after the coach was defensive prior to a win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Blatt was bothered by criticism he and the team received after the 34-point loss to the Warriors.
“I hear a lot of far-reaching conclusions, and personally, I don’t like it, but there’s nothing I can do about it because I’m not the one that’s saying or doing those things,” Blatt said. “I think this team has done pretty well dealing with the adversity that we’ve had. I think this team is in pretty good position, although people choose to overlook that, which I don’t think is fair.”
Blatt leaves the Cavaliers, his first NBA coaching job, with an 83-40 record, and his .675 winning percentage was the best of any coach in franchise history. Cleveland lost to Golden State in the NBA Finals in Blatt’s first season and James’ return to the Cavs.
It finally happened and I’m not surprised. This pairing was off from he start. David Blatt was hired before Bron returned to Cleveland. So it was Bron’s team and he didn’t choose the coach. They went through major growing pains last year with a new team to go along with it. With the firing adds some depth to this Kevin Love quote earlier this week“We have a lot of things to get better at,” said Love. “That’s going to take a lot of guys looking themselves in the mirror, and it all starts with our leader (LeBron James) over there and dwindles on down.”. Interesting that it totally makes sense that he was talking about Blatt now.
I really don’t understand giving Lue a multi-year deal right off the bat. Let him finish out the season and let it play out then go from there. I don’t understand the logic of locking him up now. Firing Blatt while improving team morale still won’t help their offense and the Love and Irving mixture that isn’t gelling. The same thing happened to Chris Bosh when he paired up with Bron and everyone was using him as the scapegoat similarly to Love now. You have to remember that Love got hurt and missed the post season last year then Kyrie got inured in the finals and is just now coming back. So the connection hasn’t had extended time grow with everyone on the floor. If they don’t figure it out soon , I really don’t see them winning against the Spurs or Warriors in the finals.