Halfway through their fifth NBA seasons, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson are about to play for their fourth different NBA head coach. David Griffin announced the firing of head coach David Blatt this afternoon, a stunning move in the context of a 30-11 team coming off two wins in a row and leading the Eastern Conference. Blatt has the 7th highest winning percentage in the history of the NBA, and has coached 1 1/2 seasons. He coached the Cavaliers only two wins in the NBA Finals in the history of the franchise.
The immediate theory is that LeBron James, who holds immense power in the organization, was responsible for the move. It's hard to believe the organization would make the move if it thought it would be something that angered James, but this is something that runs much deeper. It was very difficult to get players in that locker room to go to bat for Blatt. How much of that is on the players, and how much of that is on Blatt is up for debate.
Here are some views from around the league, and some quotes from David Griffin's press conference.
Brendan Haywood told @SportsCenter that David Blatt was afraid to correct LBJ in film study last year. Ty Lue stepped in; won player respect— Dave DeNatale (@dinocleveland) January 22, 2016
Griffin: "This team has not handled expectations well." #Cavs— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) January 22, 2016
Griffin: "LeBron doesn't run this organization. LeBron is about this organization and of this organization." Says it's an unfair stigma.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 22, 2016
Tough to listen to D Griffin and not assume things are a mess. Team hasn't been together long, but mostly veterans. Can't handle adversity?— Scott @ WFNY (@WFNYScott) January 22, 2016
That presser made me feel like the locker room is currently a dumpster fire.— realcavsfans.com (@realcavsfans) January 22, 2016
Griff on stability of rest of staff: "I feel like we won’t miss a whole lot, but we’ll gain a lot in areas that are critical to us."— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) January 22, 2016
We will have deeper thoughts on this move moving forward. I was a big fan of the way David Blatt was coaching the team this year, with just a few exceptions. I thought the lineups were inconsistent and should be staggered more to feature Kevin Love at various points. But they weathered injuries and won games and Blatt is a smart guy. His approach was considerably more open and friendly. Part of a coach's job is to connect with players, though. It seems as though Blatt came up short in that end. Did he ever have a shot? It doesn't really seem like he did.