Report: Cavs timeouts called behind Blatt's back, players openly complaining
It hasn't been a very fun start to David Blatt's NBA coaching career.
Hired with a great reputation out of Europe this summer, Blatt was gifted LeBron James and Kevin Love for his roster that already included All-Star guard Kyrie Irving. Three maximum-contract players on a single team is a coach's dream, and it was difficult to see the situation failing, even if hiring Blatt before landing James seemed a bit out of step.
Fast forward a few months, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are below .500 (19-20). ESPN's Brian Windhorst, something of a James expert, paints an ugly picture for Blatt and the Cavaliers.
It isn't just the casinos that are agape at how this is playing out - the Cavs were 4-15 in their past 19 games against the spread coming in to Tuesday - so are league scouts, executives and rival players.
They see players appearing to run different plays than the bench calls, see assistant coach Tyronn Lue calling timeouts literally behind Blatt's back during games, and hear Cavs players openly talking about coaching issues with opposing players and personnel. Not once, not twice, but frequently over the past several months.
For weeks now, the small talk when league personnel run into each other at college games, airports or pregame meals has frequently started with: 'What the hell is going on in Cleveland?'
With James now back in the fold after an eight-game absence, and three new players on the roster, Blatt will likely get at least a few weeks to get his house in order. The team still has ample time to hit its stride by the playoffs, even if home court in the Eastern Conference is now nothing more than a pipe dream.
The final call on Blatt's future may come from James, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, as he wields a tremendous amount of power within the organization.
A midseason shake-up would probably be too reactive and not entirely fair to Blatt, but the early signs of discontent indicate it's not out of the question.
Here's a look at some of the more public issues the Cavaliers have experienced so far this season:
- Oct. 5: The relationship gets off to an inauspicious start when James says Blatt's hiring had no bearing on his decision to re-sign.
- Oct. 20: Word surfaces that James held a players-only meeting before the team's first practice.
- Nov. 1: Blatt calls a team meeting after blaming its opening loss on communication issues.
- Nov. 19: James calls the 5-4 start a challenge, Blatt takes the blame for a loss and general manager David Griffin suggests changes could be coming.
- Nov. 22: James questions the team's effort and chemistry, calling them very fragile.
- Dec. 11: After an eighth consecutive win, James sits with knee soreness.
- Dec. 18: Blatt calls a 29-point loss an embarrassment.
- Dec. 29: A report suggests the organization is worried about how its players are responding to Blatt; James offers his public support after initially answering vaguely about Blatt as his bench boss.
- Dec. 30: James sits the first of eight games with knee soreness.
- Dec. 31: James downplays his overheard comments to Dwyane Wade, calling the idea of him leaving the Cavs outlandish.
- Jan. 4: Griffin offers his public support for Blatt, saying no change will be made.
- Jan. 6: Cavs make the first of two major trades.
- Jan. 12: Blatt says Love isn't a max player.
- Jan. 14: James pushes Blatt aside to avoid a technical foul in his return from injury.
- Nuggets take 2-1 series lead over Heat behind 30-20-10 Jokic game
- Report: Suns expected to waive Chris Paul
- Report: Harden torn between re-signing with 76ers, Rockets reunion
- New Wizards president Winger: I have 'full authority to reset the team'
- Like it or not, Gen Z's decisions are already changing the sports landscape