Four days removed from the Cleveland Cavaliers loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, you’d think the fans and media would be talking about what a great season the team had despite the rough finish in which it ended. Nope, instead we’re talking about the controversy between Cavaliers small forward Lebron James and head coach David Blatt. Rumors have been swirling all season that James doesn’t think Coach Blatt has what it takes to be an elite coach in the NBA and that he doesn’t want Coach Blatt to be the coach in the long run.
On Wednesday, ESPN NBA writer Brian Windhorst told “SVP and Russilo” that James wouldn’t mind having Blatt back because James likes to be able to push Blatt around and do what he wants. ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith refuted that saying James would like to have a Doc Rivers/Greg Popovich figure head type coach and not someone he has to push around.
On Thursday, ESPN head NBA writer Marc Stein added more fuel to the fire by writing an article talking about what he observed during the Finals. He wrote that he witnessed James call timeouts, make substitutions, and even at one point had Coach Blatt erase a play he drew up and draw up a new play. Stein also reported that James would rather have Cavaliers assistant head coach Ty Lue or former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau be the head coach. ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith added that James would like to have a Doc Rivers/Greg Popovich figure head type coach and not someone he has to push around.
An hour or so after that article was posted on ESPN, Coach Blatt and Cavs general manager David Griffin conducted their end of season press conference. After several rumors of Coach Blatt possibly resigning as head coach, Blatt announced that he was “absolutely” returning as head coach of the Cavaliers for next season.
I for one like and respect Coach Blatt, I thought he had a rough start to the 2014-2015 but had a strong finish in the regular season and first round of the playoffs going 33-3 with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Lebron James all on the floor together. Even with the injuries to Love and Irving, to win the Eastern Conference and be within two wins of an NBA championship should be something positive for Blatt to be recognized for. Do I think he made some mistakes? Yes, but as a rookie coach in the NBA you’re going to make mistakes and I think Blatt has or will learn from them heading into next season if he returns.
The way it is heading, I don’t see Blatt returning as head coach. I think that if you’re going to want Lebron to stay in Cleveland long term, you’ll have to let him have say on who the coach is, I understand there could be a possible rift amongst the other players but the reports are that none of the players respect Blatt and that they all respect Lue. Lue could very well be the next in line to coach the Cavaliers barring owner Dan Gilbert doesn’t try another run at Kentucky head coach John Calipari or maybe even Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. When the Cavs won the Eastern Conference, Coach Blatt said nothing was easy in Cleveland, saying that was definitely right in terms of being a sports fan.