Things have not gone well for the 2014-15 Cleveland Cavaliers — this is not news.
But the continued escalation of their visible, nearly comic dysfunction keeps bringing the Cavs back to the front pages. Nothing grabs our attention quite like a car crash, and that’s what seems to be happening in Cleveland.
After LeBron James returned from a two-week absence against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, all things Cavs jumped to a whole new level of acrimony. James shoved head coach David Blatt aside during a dispute with a referee, while assistant Tyronn Lue — the man most famous for being stepped over by Allen Iverson, during an iconic NBA Finals performance in 2001 — was caught calling timeouts behind Blatt’s back. Many speculate that if Blatt is about to be fired (a prospect his front office has said is not looming), Lue is next in line.
Lmaoooo pic.twitter.com/NopgVnIVP4— warriorsworld (@warriorsworld) January 14, 2015
While general manager David Griffin has recently called the idea of Blatt being on the hot seat “truly ridiculous,” it’s hard to completely believe him. LeBron’s shove aside, Lue’s presence aside … things are simply combustible between Blatt and his team.
There’s no denying that they’ve played an offensive style well removed from the Princeton playbook Blatt is known for, opting instead for a swath of isolation ball and pick-and-roll action. The roster has also clearly coasted through large portions of the season, including their current 1-9 slide — a mark that’s unacceptable for a team this talented, with or without their best player. The Cavs are adrift, and they’re tuning their coach out.
Some Cleveland players, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, are even advocating for Blatt’s removal. “Cavs players [are] openly talking about coaching issues with opposing players and personnel. Not once, not twice, but frequently over the past several months,” Windhorst reports.
In this man’s opinion, the Cavs’ seemingly sinking ship is something of a temporary illusion, and Blatt's job is safe at least until the summer. While the mud is certainly hitting the fan right now, there’s more than enough time and talent to clean it up, even if Cleveland can’t get themselves quite as shiny as the Larry O’Brien championship trophy in year one.
— John Wilmes