Were The Cavaliers Wrong In Firing David Blatt?

Quite the notification came across my phone Friday afternoon.  It read “The first-place Cleveland Cavaliers fire coach David Blatt and replace him with Tyronn Lue.”

The first thing anyone would think about would be the start to last season, when the Cavaliers were 19-20 through 39 games.  As we’ve found out since, that was when David Blatt was first supposed to go.

The second thing anyone would think about would be: Good God, Lebron James is literally running this team.  And while that’s probably not a good thing (to most people), let me remind you: If he didn’t have the capability to do that, then he wouldn’t be playing for the Cavaliers.

The reports about Lebron having no role in Blatt’s firing are too funny.  Lebron acting like he didn’t is hilarious.  He is running this team, but why do some think that’s shocking?  Or, why do some think that’s a bad thing?  Of course he’s gonna have say in anything the Cavaliers do basketball operations wise.  He’s the 2nd best player in the league, and practically the savior of all Cleveland sports.  And chances are, the Cavaliers would probably screw up any decision they made without his consent anyways.  So let’s chill out on that front.

The stories of Blatt doing many unwise things have been written ever since that rough start to last season.  But the stories, like the one Woj wrote for Yahoo!, and with the details it contained, hadn’t been written.  And that’s where this whole situation gets really interesting.

A couple thoughts from Woj’s piece…

  1. David Blatt clearly had no idea how different the NBA was from any league he’d coached overseas.  This reminds of some of the college coaches who’ve came into the league this year.
  2. Did he realize what kind of team he was coaching?  Coaching’s a strong word, really.  These guys know what they’re doing.
  3. Cleveland hired Blatt before Lebron came back.  So what was Lebron thinking relating to Mark Jackson?  And why Mark Jackson of all coaches?

Blatt came in with the wrong attitude last season, and it bothered some players, and it may have been the reason for the slow start.  And clearly, that attitude, whether it was there this season or not, still had a negative impact on the team.  But the craziest thing is:  It didn’t affect them on the court this season.  Not one bit.  That’s the case for Blatt that some people have made.  And I’m about to make it now.

Cleveland’s been in 1st place in the Eastern Conference for pretty much the whole season, to no one’s surprise.  Even if there’s chemistry issues, a team this talented should be producing, and they have been.  That’s why firing Blatt seemed so unfair to some.

Let’s be honest: Kevin Love’s never fit in Cleveland since he got there, and I’m not surprised.  I wrote a year and a half ago that this wouldn’t work; But that was when the goal of the season was to dominate the East or make it to the Finals.  Now, any team who has title aspirations knows one thing: You have to beat Golden State.  That’s all its about now, for anyone.

Theoretically, the only two teams (who’re contenders) that can beat Golden State are Oklahoma City and San Antonio (Take tonight’s game with a grain of salt, since San Antonio clearly doesn’t see the importance of it, resting Tim Duncan).  It’s been shown twice now (this season) that Cleveland can’t beat Golden State with this lineup.  So what’s the issue, and what’s the resolution?

You would think that Cleveland can handle Golden State.  Their lineup is a modern one: Two guards, a small forward, a stretch four, and a true center.  Golden State plays the same way.  You have to play the way Golden State plays to beat them.  But what the Cavaliers’ issue is doesn’t apply to a matchup problem against the Warriors.  Cleveland issue is Lebron James’ and Kevin Love’s chemistry.

Lebron’s been a 3 and a 4 throughout his career.  With this 2nd stint with Cleveland, its clear that Lebron wants to play the 4-spot more, but that’s Kevin Love’s spot.  Love has never been a true 4 in his career.  He just doesn’t have the skills to.

With the Timberwolves, Love was dominate at (defacto) power forward.  He was a stretch 4, and was the leading scorer and rebounder.  Minnesota didn’t have anyone else to truly go to.  It worked.  That’s why he was so dominate.

In Cleveland, there’s other players that need the ball in their hands (Lebron, Kyrie).  Its upsetting Love, but what he doesn’t realize is that its partly his fault.  Love isn’t a good enough post-up player, and is clogged with Lebron when he goes low.  On defense, we know Love’s never been a rim protecter.  He’s not good enough defensively.

Through the year and a half they’ve played together in Cleveland, Lebron and Kevin Love have been playing the same position.  But the team hasn’t suffered from it due to the star power that exists.  With the way the league is, star powers works, and can beat anyone.  Except Golden State, and that’s the issue the Cavaliers are facing.  Its been proven two times that the Cavs can’t beat the Warriors with Lebron and Kevin Love on the court.  Lebron knows it, and he just can’t say it.  This is the move that Cleveland needs to make, and had they, maybe David Blatt would still be coaching.

The Cavaliers need to offer up a package of Kevin Love and Timofey Mozgov for a wing player.  Mozgov has had a rough year and Tristan Thompson can easily start at center if Mozgov is moved.  Thompson spreads the Cavaliers out even more, which is a plus against a team like Golden State.  If they can’t find the right guy who’s worth those two guys (I’m not sure that player is available), then individually float each player.  Would the Kings do a Timofey Mozgov for Rudy Gay swap?

Love’s value is probably high around the league.  The problem is that there isn’t the right guy available to swap him for.  Maybe the Cavs sell him for future picks, so that they don’t have to add any more guys to the rotation and don’t add on to the cap?

All in all, Love’s a problem for Cleveland, whether its on the court or in trade talks.  And somehow, some are treating this like a bombshell report.

I told people who asked what I thought about Blatt’s firing that this was the first of many changes to come to the Cavaliers.  I said those changes would come soon, and they better, because Lebron, and the front office, probably isn’t gonna take it anymore.  Everyone should realize the urgency.

If these moves are made, and whether they’re big-time moves or not, we should be scared.  Other teams should be scared.  Because Lebron is smart.  He knows what’s right for this team, and while some think it’s odd that he has this power, Cavs fans should understand, and probably just be grateful for it.  Understand that getting rid of Blatt wasn’t basketball-related.  And even though it wasn’t, it could very well give this team some juice, with moves made or not.  Cleveland fans are probably embarrassed, but just know, no one’s worse than the Browns (I love the hires they’ve made though.)

Again, this is upsetting to many around the league, understandingly so, but you’d hope they know what they’re doing, and if they do, be afraid.  Be very afraid.

National Championship Preview


Before we dive into the preview of Clemson-Alabama, lets look back at the bowl season, and figure out how bad I did picking games.


Non New Year’s Six bowl picks: 21/34= 62%

New Year’s Six picks: 2/6= 33%

Yikes!  I started blazing hot with my non-New Year’s Six picks, and then a downfall that never recovered began after the New Year’s Six.

The New Year’s Six games all sucked.  I think its fair for all of us to admit that.  Neither playoff game was that entertaining (Oklahoma-Clemson much more than Michigan State-Alabama though), and New Year’s Day was a complete slaughter-fest.

Its probably just a bad year, so we can’t blame the committee too much for it.  I don’t believe in the bad matchup-making by the committee memo.

However, what we (still) can get on the committee for is why the playoff games are on New Year’s Eve, and this year turned out to be a perfect reason to show why this is such a bad idea.  TV ratings weren’t great.  Wait, we’re supposed to be surprised by this?  Yeah yeah, there’s all the optimism ESPN and the committee promoted after the bad ratings were released: Streaming viewers and such.  But this is stuff to just to make themselves feel better about it.  We’re smart enough not to fall for it, I hope.

Alright, enough making fun of people.  There’s a big game Monday night!

National Championship: No.1 Clemson-No.2 Alabama, 8:30 PM EST

I love all the people who go “The committee got it right!  No.1-No.2 in the National Championship!”  Wait, didn’t I say I’d stop making fun of people?  Anyways, those type of comments are nonsense.

Its odd.  I’m not insanely excited about this one.  Maybe cause its clear who’s going to win?

Most people, including me, have picked Clemson until they lose this season.  That was the basis I had when I picked them against Oklahoma.  This game’s different, though.  Clemson hasn’t faced a tougher defense all season.  Alabama’s certainly faced better defenses than Clemson, but as we’ve seen this season, and saw in the 1st half against the Spartans, it can take awhile to get going.  That can’t happen against this Clemson team.

Derrick Henry’s the X-Factor in this game.  As we know, he is the Alabama offense.  If he can get going, Clemson’s gonna have problems defensively, but in that case, with their offense, they could just make it shootout.

The Tigers have a lot of options on offense once again.  They’ll probably go through the air, and spread DeShaun Watson out.  I think you look at this offensively the same way you did against Oklahoma.  Air it out and roll the quarterback.

Defensively, if I’m Clemson, I’m doing all I can to stop Derrick Henry, and I’m putting my best cornerback Mackensie Alexander on Calvin Ridley.  You trust Alexander on Ridley, and stuff Henry.  Then you’re golden.

And as said above, if you can’t stop Henry, then your offense will take care of you.  You’re that good.

Alabama’s the underdog for once, and its about time.  They’re gonna have a chip on their shoulder.  A lot of people are probably going against them, and its not making them happy.  But Nick Saban’s a good coach.  He’s gonna erase that from their mind.  Cause he’s all about business.  Its about what happens on the field for him.

On the other sideline, its the complete opposite.  Dabo Swinney’s awesome.  He’s an amazing character.  We don’t see this type of character in coaching or management.  He’s got the attitude and character of his kids, and that’s why it works.

This game hangs on the what-ifs, but since we know them, it makes it easier to predict.  Its if Clemson can stop Derrick Henry, and if Alabama can stop the high-flying Clemson offense.  So what happens?

Again, Clemson’s No.1 in the country.  Its been too hard to go against them.  This is the strategy gamblers use:  Bet on them till they lose, and consider going against once they do.

Football-wise what happens?

  1. Clemson stops Derrick Henry as Alabama’s offense opens slow again, and the Tigers unleash on offense.


2.  Derrick Henry provides the Crimson Tide offense, Clemson responds appropriately, and makes it a shootout.

If No.1 happens, this is a blowout by Clemson.  If No.2 happens, then we’re gonna get a classic.

It’s very hard to see this lopsided and overrated Alabama offense producing against Clemson.  Derrick Henry’s the Heisman winner, and he’s going to have a Heisman-like game if the Crimson Tide are going to win.

Pick: Clemson-28 Alabama-17