I think Cleveland sports fans thought a head coach would be getting fired on Sunday, just not the one most of us were expecting.
The Cleveland Cavaliers fired head coach Tyronn Lue on Sunday morning after nearly three full seasons as the head coach of the organization. He was elevated to head coach in January of 2016 after then head coach David Blatt was dismissed in the middle of the season.
During his tenure, Lue compiled a record of 211-128 along with a 41-20 record in the postseason. He won three Eastern Conference championships and the 2016 NBA championship, Cleveland’s first professional sports championship in 52 years.
Lue’s dismissal came after the team’s 0-6 start to the season but there was other factors that were going into the decision as reports have surfaced since the change was made.
Joe Vardon of the Athletic reported that the front office was pushing for the younger players including first-round pick Collin Sexton to play more over the veterans, which one would suggest that they’re tanking to secure their draft pick which is currently held by Atlanta unless it lands in the top ten.
From the reporting, it sounded like Lue didn’t want that and inserted the veterans back into the rotation although it didn’t make any difference and with the absence of Kevin Love who is dealing with a foot injury, the Cavaliers have been abysmal.
They haven’t led at halftime or at any point during the second half of the first six games of the season. They were blown out by the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets in back-to-back home games and their defense hasn’t improved by any means and currently ranks 29th in the NBA.
Now the front office and clearly ownership are ready to focus on a new direction where it looks like they’re going to get younger and will continue their rebuilding phase in the post-Lebron James era.
I know some including myself were having hopes for a possible playoff berth but through six games, it’s clear that this team won’t even sniff the postseason and are focusing on the long-term future of the franchise.
For the veterans on this team, one would think that their playing time will be diminished once again and some are obviously venting their frustration. You’d have to think Kyle Korver would be a player who would get traded to a contender by the trade deadline to a team needing a shooter (Lakers?).
You also have to wonder what Kevin Love is thinking. He signed a long-term extension with the assurance from the front office that they wouldn’t be tanking. With the looks of the team focusing on the future, I think it’s a matter of when not if we’ll hear reports of Kevin Love asking for a trade although he can’t be traded until late January because of the CBA rules of signing an extension.
In addition to Lue, the team also fired assistant coach and former NBA guard Damon Jones. Jones had been part of the coaching staff since 2014 and was promoted to full-time assistant at the beginning of the 2016-2017.
Larry Drew, who filled in for Lue as an interim head coach last season while Lue was dealing with an illness has been named the team’s “leader” for at least the immediate future. Drew was the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks from 2010 to 2013 and then Milwaukee for the 2013-14 season. He has a career record of 143-169.
ESPN has reported that he’s potentially seeking becoming the team’s full-time head coach although none of the remaining staff are under contract past this season.