Tyronn Lue was LeBron James‘ hand-picked guy. David Blatt was out and Lue was in and that was how LeBron wanted it in Cleveland.
LeBron is no longer in Cleveland.
Now, neither is Tyronn Lue thanks to owner Dan Gilbert’s quick trigger, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Lue confirmed the firing and released this statement.
The Cavaliers also confirmed the move.
“This was a very difficult decision. It is especially so, considering Coach Lue’s time with us over the last four years, including four straight trips to the NBA Finals,” said GM Koby Altman in a released statement. “We have respect and great admiration for Ty, not only as a coach, but a person. We thank him for the many ways he has contributed to our success, wish him the best and he will always be remembered for leading a very special Cavs team back against the odds to win the title in 2016. This is a different team equation, though, and one that we felt needed a different voice and approach that required this change.”
Larry Drew is the interim coach, although how long that lasts remains to be seen. The Cavs will want him to play the youth and that means losses, he knows he needs to be well compensated and get some security to do that. Drew is a long-time assistant who was the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks for four seasons from 2010-14 plus the head coach in Milwaukee for a short time. The Cavs let go of other assistant coaches and all, including Drew, are on one year contracts.
LeBron James and new franchise centerpiece Kevin Love have Lue’s back — speaking for a lot of current Cavs players who are not happy with the move.
No doubt Cleveland has looked like the worst team in the NBA to start the young season, with the second-worst defense and 23rd-ranked offense in the league. They have been outscored by 12.6 points per 100 possessions through six games, trailed by at least 16 in every game, and haven’t shown much competitive fire.
Is that really Lue’s fault? The team lost the player that carried them to the Finals, the person that was their team culture, the man the entire roster was built around. Then this summer they didn’t revamp the roster with any kind of direction in mind other than walking the nearly impossible line of rebuilding while winning.
While he’s not considered an Xs and Os guru by his peers, Lue is considered a hard-working coach who got a team to a ring with some smart moves. He’s a player’s coach, but only can do so much. Lue is a coach given a misfit roster that was never going to transition smoothly. Some in the Cleveland front office thought could compete for a playoff spot, an idea that drew laughs from most observers. Management thought this team should have been more competitive. Still, the front office was full of mixed signals. They paid big money to Kevin Love this summer — a $120 million contract extension — despite his age and injury history. Love has been fine this season, 19.5 points and 13 rebounds a game, when healthy enough to play, but the roster around him is not going to fit well with his game.
What should have been a rebuild after LeBron left has become a team that is neither win now or rebuilding. And it shows. That’s more about Dan Gilbert and his ownership/leadership, which is going to be exposed even more in the coming years.
But Lue takes the hit. Welcome to the NBA.