Tag: LeBron James

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving will not travel with the Cavs to Philadelphia


When the Cleveland Cavaliers travel to Philadelphia to play the Sixers on Monday, they will be down two of their three superstars. In addition to LeBron James, who is out for two weeks with a knee injury, the team announced on Sunday that Kyrie Irving will not be making the trip.

According to David Blatt, Irving hurt his back in the second half of the Cavs’ Friday win over the Hornets. He played in Sunday’s home loss to the Mavericks, scoring 6 points in 25 minutes and deciding that he needs some time to heal.

In some ways, the timing of the injury is good news for the Cavs. This was already going to be a rough couple of weeks with James out, regardless of whether or not Irving played. If James came back and then Irving got hurt, that would just extend their bad luck. If taking a little time off now gets both James and Irving back close to 100 percent, that’s better for the Cavs in the long run.

Cleveland’s schedule doesn’t get much easier over the couple weeks. Between now and January 19, they play Houston at home and then road games against the Warriors, Suns, Clippers and Bulls. James should be back for the tail end of that stretch, barring a setback, but it’s not an ideal stretch of schedule for Cleveland.

Cavs GM David Griffin calls David Blatt speculation “totally ridiculous”

David Blatt

Less than halfway into the season, there’s already a coaching controversy in Cleveland. David Blatt has supposedly lost the locker room after a disappointing 19-14 start for a team that was supposed to be a powerhouse. There’s talk that he may be on the way out, to be replaced by LeBron James favorite Tyronn Lue.

Cavs general manager David Griffin hit back at the rumors and gave Blatt a vote of confidence on Sunday, via Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick:

To be sure, the beginning to Blatt’s tenure with the Cavs has been a disappointment. And the coach is not completely blameless, but it doesn’t fall entirely on him, either. It’s just a bad situation for him.

When the Cavs hired Blatt, they thought they were signing him up to guide a rebuilding team built around Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins. That’s the kind of situation a coach like Blatt, with no NBA experience, needs to be in to be successful. The Timberwolves talked to Blatt before Flip Saunders hired himself, and that would have been the ideal spot for Blatt.

Blatt’s job changed over the summer, before he’d even coached a game: James’ decision to return home and the trade of Wiggins and Anthony Bennett for Kevin Love completely shifted the franchise’s priorities. Rather than being a young, rebuilding team, they were suddenly in win-now mode. No matter how good a coach Blatt may be, throwing him into a situation where there are championship expectations right away isn’t ideal. It brings to mind the Nets’ 2013 hire of Jason Kidd 10 days after he retired from playing. Brooklyn traded several draft picks for the aging Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, firmly cementing their window of contention as “right now.” Hiring a rookie coach for a win-now roster was a mistake, but Kidd has proven to be a good coach with the young Bucks team he’s leading this year. Blatt is far from a rookie coach on the global stage, but he’s never coached in the NBA before and never had to manage superstar personalities like James, Love and Kyrie Irving.

It’s easy to draw parallels between Blatt and the scrutiny Eric Spoelstra faced in LeBron James’ and Chris Bosh’s first year in Miami, but the similarities aren’t exact. For one thing, Spoelstra had already coached the Heat for several years and built up a track record as a well-regarded coach. He also had the support of Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley, two voices strong enough that even a force of personality like James couldn’t overrule them. He essentially ran the show in Cleveland, and playing for a coach with actual authority was an adjustment. But Spoelstra’s coaching acumen and ability to command the respect of the entire locker room, including the superstars, played a major role in the Heat’s success, making four straight Finals and winning two titles in 2012 and 2013.

Blatt has no such authority in Cleveland. Make no mistake: LeBron is the most powerful person in the organization. There’s no Pat Riley, a legendary coach and GM with the championship track record to force him to fall in line. If James wants Blatt gone, eventually he will be gone. For now, it doesn’t seem like that will happen during the season, but barring a turnaround this season, there’s a good chance he won’t be back for a second season. And that’s too bad.

Ty Lawson says he has talked with Kevin Durant about going home to Washington DC

Phoenix Suns v Oklahoma City Thunder

While the Wizards brain trust was making smart off-season moves — re-signing Marcin Gortat, bringing in Paul Pierce —all the talk among fans was on one topic:

Would Kevin Durant come home in 2016?

LeBron James choosing to return to Cleveland sparked a lot of hope in the DC faithful, and it will be a topic again tonight as the Wizards are on the road against the Thunder.

Ty Lawson is another District area native and Ben Standig of CSNWashington.com asked if the two had spoken about playing at home.

“I’ve talked to him about it, but I probably can’t tell you what he said,” Lawson laughingly told CSNwashington.com when the Nuggets visited last month….

“We talked about it. Everybody going home and playing for their respective cities,” Lawson said. “It would be cool, especially playing with the people you grew up with. I grew up with KD. It would be fun to play with them on one team.”

Lawson is not likely bound for the Wizards when his contract is up in two years, Washington is pretty set at point guard with John Wall.

Wizards fans who are Comcast Sportsnet Washington subscribers, you can watch a live stream of the Washington vs. Oklahoma City game Friday night by following this link.

Durant, on the other hand, would fit in very well. Of course, he’d fit well on 29 other NBA teams as well. Should Durant decide to really test the waters come the summer of 2016 teams from Los Angeles to New York and every stop in between would try to court him.

After seeing him answer questions about 2016 when he was with Team USA this summer in Las Vegas (before he dropped out of the World Championships) I don’t believe Durant has any idea yet what he will do in two summers. I would bet that Oklahoma City has the best chance of retaining his services.

After that, the Wizards would certainly be in the mix. But two summers is two lifetimes in the NBA and what Durant will want to do remains unpredictable.

Report: LeBron James didn’t buy into Erik Spoelstra until well into second season with Heat

LeBron James, Erik Spoelstra

It’s no secret LeBron James and Erik Spoelstra were not on the same page their first season with the Heat.

Miami started 9-8, and reports swirled about friction between Spoelstra and the players. LeBron bumped Spoelstra while returning to the bench during a timeout, and speculation reached fever pitch.

It seemed Spoelstra might not make it through his first season coaching LeBron.

Sound familiar?

Cavaliers coach David Blatt is dealing with those same type of reports. He’s even getting near-identical quotes from LeBron about the star’s support.

LeBron on Spoelstra in 2010: “This is who we have.”

LeBron on Blatt in 2014: “What other coach do we have?

But LeBron and Spoelstra made it through a rough start and won two championships together. By the time they reached the 2011 NBA Finals, they were all good, right?

Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:

It took awhile—Heat insiders will say that it took well into the 2011-12 season—but eventually James gained enough confidence in Spoelstra not only to allow Spoelstra to completely coach him, but to start parroting some of Spoelstra’s principles, from a leadership position, to the rest of the team.

If it took well more than a season – with Pat Riley standing up to LeBron in Spoelstra’s defense and Spoelstra proving himself a good coach – for LeBron to come around to Spoelstra, what chance does Blatt have?

There’s no Riley in Cleveland to defend the coach. LeBron wields more power with the Cavaliers than he did in Miami. Could you really see Dan Gilbert standing up to LeBron about supporting Blatt?

And, more importantly, Blatt has not proven himself a good coach. Maybe that’s an unfair expectation for an NBA rookie who’s suddenly coaching a team in the spotlight, one that has a unique collection of stars though not enough fitting role players to produce even a starting shooting guard. But his grace period to learn the ropes won’t last much longer.

LeBron is more mature now, and I’d bet Riley’s insistence on sticking with Spoelstra four years ago taught LeBron something about patience. That lesson likely gets Blatt a longer leash.

But if this provides any perspective on how difficult it is for a coach to gain LeBron’s support, Blatt has a tougher task ahead than we realized.

Kevin Love returning for Cavaliers against Hornets tonight

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks

Kevin Love left the Cavaliers’ loss to the Hawks and missed their loss to the Bucks, their third straight defeat.

But – as LeBron James goes out for a couple weeks – Love is returning to the lineup tonight.

Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group:


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Love and Kyrie Irving should keep Cleveland afloat with LeBron sidelined. Remember how excited everyone was this summer for the possibility of Love joining Rajon Rondo with the Celtics? Irving and Love don’t fit quite as well stylistically, but the talent is there.

The Cavaliers’ biggest issue is still their stars meshing with each other and the role players around them, but they won’t progress on that front until LeBron returns. In the meantime, maybe Love and Irving can help with a smaller issue – improving Cleveland’s playoff seed.