A few weeks ago I wrote about how LeBron had become a quasi-player/coach/GM and yesterday we saw some of his power as his “coach,” David Blatt was fired. Now that Tyronn Lue has a new three-year contract, the Cavaliers are paying two former head coaches, Blatt and Mike Brown, to not coach in addition to their current one. In addition to the insightful observation that this is not a good thing, I have three additional thoughts.
1) The Media Spin Has Only Just Started, But It Will Be Hilarious- My favorite has been the narrative that LeBron James had no idea this was coming and in no way influenced this. Unlike NBA journalists, the vast majority of NBA fans don’t talk to GMs, players, and other anonymous sources with agendas, but this may be a good thing because unlike a lot of NBA journalists it allows us to use our common sense. We all saw how LeBron James went out of his way to show his disregard for David Blatt during the playoffs last year. Frankly, I do not remember a coach ever getting shown up worse by one of his players and it is not the first time LeBron has done this.
A lot of people forget this, but in his autobiography Shaq commented on how he witnessed Mike Brown being forced to accede to LeBron’s demands and the coach’s determination to avoid criticizing him, even for things the coach is suppose to, such as an unwillingness to hustle back on defense. I (and you don’t either) do not have any idea if LeBron specifically told Cavaliers management he wanted David Blatt fired, but based on what we saw just by watching TV it wouldn’t be surprising and some public comments that he made supporting Blatt this season are not evidence that LeBron was on his side. I don’t think this makes him evil as he is not the first superstar to get his coach fired and he will not be the last, but let’s not bury our heads in the sand to avoid the truth.
2) It’s Not A Good Move Or A Bad One- Cavaliers management long ago ceded control of the team to LeBron James and his camp. I guess Dan Gilbert decided he was willing to pay this price to compete for a championship. I would not run my NBA team like that if I owned one, but Dan Gilbert is worth many more billions of dollars than me, so who am I to tell him how to manage anything. Frankly, I think the Cavaliers could have won a championship with LeBron James serving as a quasi player-coach and I think they can win one with Tyronn Lue. Lue is going to be handcuffed by the same thing all of LeBron’s previous coaches in Cleveland were, which is that if LeBron wants him fired he can get him fired and if LeBron does not want to listen to him he will not. So, in the interests of keeping LeBron engaged and in Cleveland this may be a good move, but I don’t think it makes the Cavaliers significantly better or worse this season.
3) Impact On The Trade Deadline- I think the Cavaliers’ biggest obstacle to a championship is that two of their three best players have long injury histories. It hurt them last year in the NBA Finals and it has hindered them this year, although they are still in first place in the Eastern Conference. That having been said it is very unlikely that they will be able to significantly improve at the trade deadline. Most of their players have unappealing contracts, the aforementioned long injury histories, or are on the downside of their career. With all that in mind the Cavaliers remain my pick to win the NBA championship barring a catastrophic injury.
Chris Linnan is currently a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Indonesia, who has a life-long basketball and politics addiction. If you want to receive an alert every time CLT publishes an article please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Mailing List.