Well, dreams of contention in the Eastern Conference and a positive post-LeBron identity didn’t last long, did they?
The Cavaliers, after falling to 0-6 to start the season, have fired Tyronn Lue.
Lue coached the team to their first and only NBA Championship in 2016 after taking over for David Blatt midway through the season, and finishes his first head coaching stint with a 128-83 record in the regular season, while going 41-20 in the playoffs.
Ultimately, this is an odd move for the Cavaliers, even given their disastrous start. The team committed to Kevin Love in the offseason and re-signed Channing Frye in what would appear to be an attempt to rekindle the warmth from the 2016 title, but in firing Lue, sever yet another connection to the best moment in franchise history.
It’s also odd timing. Yes, the Cavaliers started poorly, but two of their six games have been without their best player by a mile in Kevin Love. If Ty Lue could’ve saved his job with a team where he’s pressganged into starting Channing Frye or Sam Dekker sneaking out a win, that’s just hilariously bad process.
Larry Drew will be taking over on the bench, and that’s particularly what makes this move so baffling. Drew is a career assistant and interim coach, outside of a four-year stretch with Atlanta where he finished 143-169 and 10-14 in the postseason. Unless Dan Gilbert’s got a ringer ready on the line that’s going to sign up at midseason, this is a complete cultural waste of a season for the Cavaliers.
A new coaching staff next year will slash and burn and install their own systems (which is fine), but it does mean that we’ve got another 76 games of...nothing.
There was always going to be questions about Lue’s coaching ability, what with the Cavaliers historically woeful defense and being paired with LeBron, who has absorbed credit from coaches his whole career for being an offensive system unto himself.
This season represented a chance for Lue to put his imprint on the Cavaliers and lead the franchise forward, but that clearly won’t happen now. He’s not blameless here - the Cavaliers offense is limited, but there wasn’t much creativity happening in an offense that at best appeared to just sub lesser players into spots that were once occupied by LeBron, and at worst seemed to be a machine for Rodney Hood lightly-contested 17-footers.
The Cavaliers are in the basement now. This is a familiar reality for a franchise that struggled to find a winning coach and culture the first time LeBron left.
It’s hard to put much faith in the current organization’s ability to get themselves out.