Halfway through the NBA season the Cleveland Cavaliers have fired their head coach David Blatt despite the team having played their way to the best record in the Eastern conference this year and into the NBA Finals last season.
Blatt has been replaced by Tyronn Lue according to the teams general manager David Griffin.
Lue was one of the teams top assistant coaches and signed to a 3 year head coaching contract on Friday once the move to oust Blatt had been made official.
The predominant rumor behind the head coaches firing has been that Blatt had lost the locker room, and on a team full of stars, it certainly can be difficult balancing all of the big personaliies and egos. Losing the locker room can certainly have a sever negative effect on a team, yet the move still has some scratching their heads.
“What I see is that we need to build a collective spirit, a strength of spirit, a collective will,” Griffin said. “Elite teams always have that, and you see it everywhere. To be truly elite, we have to buy into a set of values and principles that we believe in. That becomes our identity.”
While no one is going to know what the locker room is like better than people on and close to the team, it’s certainly eyebrow raising when you fire a coach who through his first 123 games as a coach for the Cavs, had an 80-43 record, not including the playoff run that put Cleveland back into the NBA Finals, though they did lose to the Golden State Warriors.
Perhaps coincidentally, the move came after the Cavaliers suffered a 34 point loss to those same Warriors, losing the game may have been the final nail in the coffin, though the speed with which the Cavaliers named an official head coach replacement may beg the question how long this move has been in the making.
The situation for Blatt has to be disheartening. He is just the 3rd coach in the last 40 years to be fired after leading his team to the NBA the year prior, the others being Byron Scott of the 2004 New Jersey Nets and Gene Shue of the 1977 Philadelphia 76ers. Blatt is also the only Head Coach since the move to the 2 conference system that has been fired midseason with their team on top of one of the conferences.
Time will tell whether or not the move will pay off for the Cavaliers, with half of the season to go, they have time to try and secure their spot at the top of the East, and maybe make another deep playoff run, maybe even ending with a title.