David Blatt axed by Cleveland Cavaliers

David BlattThe Cleveland Cavaliers have parted ways with head coach David Blatt, dismissing the tactician late on Friday and replacing him with his top assistant.

The news came as something of a surprise because Blatt was having a better second season with the NBA franchise than his first campaign. Certainly, if this news had landed this time last year there would be little to argue about, but with the Cavs in title chasing form (the team was the best in the Eastern Conference just a few weeks ago) there is a sense David Blatt had unfinished business.

However, general manager David Griffin said that the dismissal was more about personal relationships than it was performance on the hardwood. Speaking to the press, Griffin said:

“What I see is that we need to build a collective spirit, a strength of spirit, a collective will,” Griffin said. “Elite teams always have that, and you see it everywhere. To be truly elite, we have to buy into a set of values and principles that we believe in. That becomes our identity … I have never seen a locker room not be as connected after wins as they need to be. We’ve only been galvanized when expectations were not high.”

David Blatt arrived in Cleveland during the summer of 2014, a hot shot coach who had uniquely carved his reputation in Europe, and had just won an unprecedented treble (including the Euroleague) with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv. However, Europe is not a familiar NBA route and some eyebrows were raised instantly at Blatt’s appointment, but the (re)arrival of LeBron James in the Cavaliers camp that same summer took the attention off the appointment.

Perhaps James took the attention off Blatt when the Cavaliers struggled at certain points during the 2014/2015 season as well. Either way, the franchise persevered and Blatt guided the Cavs into the NBA finals, which was probably enough to warrant a “job done” in his debut season. The 2015/2016 term has brought more expectations, and on the court at least it seemed as though Blatt was on course. Behind the scenes things were apparently different and that’s why the front office wielded the axe.

Blatt is replaced by his second in command, Tyronn Lue, who was a consideration for the head coach position when the outgoing head was originally appointed. The franchise was eager to say that Lue is not in an interim role and is now the full head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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