Nearly one year later, Griffin and Lue have done it again.
The latest conversations were sparked by LeBron publicly declaring the Cavs’ roster to be substandard.
“We’re going to handle it internal,” Lue said. “We’re not going to put out everything that was said, but we addressed LeBron. We talked to him and he understands, he understood and now we’re going to move on.”
“For me you always want to try to improve the team whether you’re great or not,” Lue said. “Golden State won 73 games last year and they added Kevin Durant. You always want to get better and when you see teams getting better as a competitor you want to get better. But we have enough on this team to win a championship. We can get better. I know Griff is going to make us better and he’s going to do the best he can.
“For me, LeBron James, the best player in the world, took a team that was worse to the NBA Finals two years ago. We have a good team. We just have to start playing better as a unit. No excuses.”
LeBron put Lue in an impossible position. Lue can either agree with LeBron and offend some of the 13 other players the coach is charged with guiding or disagree with LeBron. And you saw where disagreeing with LeBron got David Blatt.
So, Lue is toeing the line, leaning more toward LeBron’s teammates. Given the circumstances, “we have enough on this team to win a championship” is a strong rebuttal to LeBron. But pointing out LeBron’s ability to lead a lesser roster to the Finals in 2015 is a nod toward appeasing LeBron.
But LeBron doesn’t want to reach just the Finals or even to play with a supporting cast that’s just good enough to win a title. He wants a team that absolutely maximizes his ability to get another ring, and he’s agitating for it.
Griffin (strengthening the roster even further) and Lue (getting LeBron and his teammates pulling together) are left to deal with the fallout. It isn’t easy, but that’s the price of working with LeBron. He demands greatness, because he delivers it. Not everyone can duplicate that, but it doesn’t mean LeBron will suddenly settle for less.