Earlier this month, the first place Cleveland Cavaliers fired their head coach David Blatt. These are the very same Cavaliers that made the NBA Finals last year and pushed the Golden State Warriors to six games.
To be fair, there were many reasons why Blatt was fired. Kevin Love is essentially one-dimensional for the team, they were getting stomped by the league’s best teams and some say that LeBron James was really the most important coach for the team.
The only problem for the Cavs is that there wasn’t much of a back-up plan for after Blatt was gone. Their move to hire assistant coach Tyronn Lue to take over is interesting. Lue was one of the options before Blatt was hired, stayed on as an assistant and contains just as much NBA head coaching experience as I do.
The move by the Cavs is following a current trend in the NBA. You’re either contending or you’re nothing. This is usually the norm, but is being magnified as of late by two super teams: the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. This year, they have been blowing out really good teams and are on pace for historical records while essentially knocking out any other teams that considered themselves “contenders.” This includes Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Houston and Chicago, all of whom fired their head coaches in the past year.
It’s hard to say if all of these moves are justified, but when there really isn’t any upgrade in coaching, it’s difficult to see how they make any sense. Houston has gone backwards after making the conference finals last year, Oklahoma City still can’t play defense or run any set plays late and Chicago hasn’t seen any improvement across the board. It will be interesting to see in Cleveland, but the trend of these moves has so far been unfavorable.
What the GM’s of these teams want is to be the next Golden State. After Golden State fired Mark Jackson and hired Steve Kerr, it propelled them to a historic season and a title. This, however, was not a result of just the coaching change. Steph Curry transformed into a superstar, Draymond Green is probably the best role player for any team and their bench is probably good enough to make the playoffs by themselves.
It was pretty evident that coaching wasn’t as important when Luke Walton, the interim Golden State coach, started them off on a historic pace to start this season when Kerr took a leave of absence for health reasons.
It was funny to see San Antonio’s coach Gregg Popovich poke fun at the recent high turnover rate of coaches in the NBA. After the Spurs were blown out by Golden State on the road, he said that he was happy his GM wasn’t there or else he would be fired. This is the way of the world now in the NBA and Cleveland’s move is probably not the last. I would not be surprised one bit if the LA Clippers fired their coach in the next few weeks.