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Jan
22
2016

The LeBron James Effect: What Does the Firing of David Blatt Mean?

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Ok, now that we’ve all calmed down and come to an understanding, let’s be clear: LeBron James runs the Cleveland Cavaliers organization.

Ok, now that we’re past that what do we make of it? Tyronn Lue has been the most visible assistant on the Cavaliers bench. There’s often moments during games, whether the camera is focused on him or not, where you see Lue pointing players where to go or having side conversations with players outside of the main huddle.  As owner David Griffin put it, “He has the pulse of our team.”  Lue has played for Phil Jackson, one of the best coaches in the NBA, where he won 2 championship rings. As far as coaching experience, Lue was on Doc Rivers coaching staff starting in 2011 before coming to Cleveland’s staff in 2014 when the organization hired David Blatt. Lue is only 38 but maybe he connects with the players on a much better level than David Blatt.

Yes, the Cavaliers are 30-11. Yes, David Blatt was a good coach. However, strategy/coaching are the current Achilles’ heel for this current Cavaliers squad. Nothing revealed that more than the ease at which the Golden State Warriors soundly defeated the Cavaliers 132-98, the worst home loss in LeBron James’ career. Nobody was listening, or for that matter truly playing to David Blatt’s European style of basketball. I mean, as an casual an NBA fan, yes, you’re going to say the firing falls squarely on LeBron, but where there’s fault, there’s also adjustment.

This firing is all about the Golden State Warriors. At this juncture, the Cavaliers are the #1 team in the Eastern Conference but honestly, its meaningless when you look at who their potential NBA Finals opponent is. Now, is it bad that the Cavaliers are looking past the Eastern Conference and already crowning themselves Conference Champions? Only if you hate confidence. Ask yourself, have Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors even been challenged yet? Remember, their record is 39-4. The Golden State Warriors are one of the most confident teams the NBA has seen since the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls. That bothers LeBron James and his legacy, if you ask me ndhere’s where Tyronn Lue becomes meaningful.

Tyronn Lue’s job at this point in time is to get LeBron to realize in order for him to be great, he has to let go of Michael Jordan’s shadow and embrace Magic Johnson’s shadow. Remember when Gilbert Arenas said LeBron James wasn’t a #1 option? Well one of his biggest points was LeBron James is Magic with Jordan-like athleticism. That Jordan-like athleticism comes as a gift and a curse. LeBron James isn’t a pure shooter, but he’s a freak athlete. Freak athletes, to my knowledge, have the ability to do more than one thing well. However, in order to use the gifts you have, you have to allow other folks to fill their roles.

For example, Kyrie Irving is a ball dominant player, LeBron James doesn’t need to be. As a head coach, let’s hope Tyronn Lue lets Kyrie start the offense with LeBron filling in when needed. Why? Because they have Kevin Love, who is a bit better shooter and rebounder than Chris Bosh was. When Chris Bosh started in Miami, he struggled until he became a pick and pop player. Kevin Love IS a pick and pop player, not a post man. That’s what Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov should be for. What’s polarizing about this team is that they have yet to take advantage of their offensive/defensive rotations. Magic Johnson averaged 11.2 assists per game in the regular season and 12.3 assists per game in the playoffs. LeBron James needs to realize he’s a better passer than he is a scorer. He’s a better fast break dunker than he is a buzzer beating clutch artist.

The Cavaliers strategically haven’t figured out who to play when the pressure is on. This team, if they’ve got the “right” leader in Tyronn Lue could right the ship, however, what comes with being the head coach is you have to let LeBron be comfortable and he wasn’t comfortable with David Blatt as his coach. Now, does Tyronn Lue have the “right stuff”? I don’t know, but David Blatt is not the answer when it comes to winning a championship. Last year’s Finals exposed his abilities a bit when dealing with injuries and this season really exposed him as a not so great leader when Golden State came to Cleveland and soundly beat them start to finish with a healthy team. What happened to Mo Williams? He’s been buried on the bench since Kyrie Irving got back. The level of consistency has to change and my personal opinion, I think it will with Tyronn Lue.

Let’s see what happens first before we all scream and moan though. Yes, it’s awful David Blatt lost his job but the NBA is a business first. The Cleveland Cavaliers have to do what they think is best for their organization while also catering to LeBron James. Let’s not forget folks, he left once and as unpredictable as he is, he could leave again, so sit back and enjoy the show. I think personally fans may see a reenergized team if not before the All Star break, then after. At this point, Cavaliers players need more defined roles that put the whole team in a position to be successful, not just watch LeBron James dribble the basketball and make things happen every time. Under David Blatt, that’s what was happening.

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