Report: Blatt lost respect of Cavs players, was almost fired in December

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Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

David Blatt had lost the Cleveland Cavaliers locker room a long time ago and was almost dismissed by the team in late December, according to Cleveland.com's Chris Haynes.

The coach was close to losing his job in the wake of a Christmas Day defeat at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, and another loss the next night to the Damian Lillard-less Portland Trail Blazers, Haynes reports.

The team rebounded with eight straight wins at that point, but Blatt had apparently already lost the respect of most Cavaliers players due to his coaching style, which was reluctant to put heat on the team's top players. Earlier Friday, former Cavs center Brendan Haywood echoed the sentiment, saying Blatt was hesitant to challenge LeBron James and others.

From Haynes:

During the first portion of the 2014-15 season, film sessions were a topic of discussion among the players. Blatt was reluctant to criticize star players even when they clearly messed up a play. This became routine. It got so bad that I'm told that (Tyronn) Lue finally intervened, stood up and demanded that somebody rewind the footage so that he could get on members of The Big 3.

Another source of consternation had been Blatt's substitution patterns and timeout play calls, some of which came to be publicly ridiculed. In last spring's playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, Blatt called a timeout the Cavaliers did not have in the final seconds of a tied Game 4. Only the referees missing it saved Cleveland from what could have been a momentum-shifting incident.

Here's the video of Blatt trying to call a timeout with none left

In the same contest, which the Cavs ended up winning 86-84 to tie the series at two, James admitted he overrode Blatt's play call at the end of the game. A month later, a report surfaced that James did the same thing during the NBA Finals against the Warriors.

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