Tag Archives: Tyronn Lue

Cavaliers offend with their offense

After declaring a rebirth of sorts for the Cleveland Cavaliers in my last piece, I now feel a bit of egg running down my face after the team has dropped two very winnable games this past week. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss two factors that I think led to these disappointing outcomes.

I have said this before, and it rings true this week as much as it has all season. We MUST win the games we are supposed to win!

No one takes us seriously when we beat the #2 team in the league one week and lose to a sub .500 team the next. It makes fans and the national media question whether we are actually a good team or just putting on a show with smoke and mirrors.

Offensive Strategy: At times, I find the strategy that the Cavaliers decide to use on offense, offensive. Meaning that it offends my common sense approach as an analytical fan.

For example, when the game is close or we are starting to squander a lead late in a game, why on earth do any of these professional players think that the best idea is to run the shot clock down and hoist up a three pointer? Is it an engrained desire to be the hero as they have practiced thousands of times since they were first introduced to the game as kids?

Sure, sometimes the shot goes in and we all talk about how clutch that player is and how they always seem to bail us out. Most of the time, those shots do not go in and amongst fans there seems to be no accountability for having just wasted a crucial possession.

We should be taking high percentage shots from the paint in these situations. This is the most opportune time to rely on Kevin Love.

He has shown over the last few weeks to be not only shooting a high percentage from down there, but it also puts him in a great position to possible secure an offensive rebound for another clock eating possession. I don’t understand why we settle for just running out 24 seconds and taking a low percentage shot when we can get a higher percentage shot and possibly the chance to run out 40 seconds.

I also want to complain about one more strategy on offense that goes hand in hand with the one I just mentioned. That strategy is the isolation play for James.

Yes, I realize that he is The King and can make his way past most defenders one on one and get a high percentage shot, but it is what consistently happens AFTER he makes it past the player defending him that is in question.

Either he takes a tougher than necessary shot trying to get an “And One” and doesn’t get the call, OR if he does get the call and misses we take our chances at the free throw line.

For being a superstar in our league and contending with James Harden for most “And One” opportunities amongst all players, he has been mostly inconsistent at the free throw line. In close games like the 104-103 loss to Boston, #AllFreeThrowsMatter

Another thing that the isolation play does when you run it over and over, is that it gives the opponents time to rest as the play usually consists of James on one end of the court and the rest of the players just standing around watching on the other side. Make these guys run the slalom around picks at the end of the game so that the fatigue catches up with them and they will make more mistakes.

If Lue is dead set on running the ISO in these situation, PLEASE do it with Kyrie! At least he is shooting a reasonable percentage from the line and finishes just as well or better than James.

Bench Play: The contributions off of the bench in these two most recent losses have been truly disappointing as a collective group. Dellevadova being out with a hamstring issue only cements my suspicion that he is maybe the most important component of the second unit.

The strength of the second unit is clearly anchored in Iman Shumpert’s ability to steal the ball and make players think twice about lazy passes. This is an invaluable asset that we have as it gives us more possessions in addition to take potential points off of the board for our adversaries.

From an offensive standpoint, we just cannot produce consistently. Just when we think that Mozgov has “figured it out” he reminds us that there is a reason he is not starting anymore with another blunder at a crucial juncture.

Against the moderately talented Charlotte Hornets all that out five bench players could amass was 13 points. Delly is averaging over 8 points per game on his own so his contributions are clearly missed.

We cannot expect to win close games without these intangibles. I challenge the players and coaches to play a smarter game and, if necessary, make some key changes to the team that put us in a stronger position to contend in the Finals.

Even if we play horribly, we will get one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference purely based on our talent level. Having Kyrie and Love in the Finals this year will not matter though unless some of these issues are corrected.

I’m ready to see if Tyronn Lue is up to that challenge.

Another January Rebirth for the Cavaliers

Four games, four wins, and an average margin of victory of almost 13 points.

This was the week of basketball provided by our Cleveland Cavaliers under the direction of their new head coach Tyronn Lue. Sure, Lue’s first game last Saturday, a 96-83 loss to Chicago, was likely to give GM David Griffin a small jolt of buyer’s remorse, but these last four games have most certainly solidified his confidence in the decision to replace David Blatt.

I think that it is safe to say that the way this team plays now is notably different from the previous regime. Its the same cast of characters but as a whole, it is a very different narrative.

One of my favorite decisions that Lue made right away is moving Tristan Thompson back into a starting role. If you look at the level of talent that he brings to the court, coupled with the amount of money we invested in him just before the start of the season, having him in the starting lineup just makes good basketball sense.

I know that I have been hard on Timofey Mozgov this season and most of it can be backed up with hard evidence. Having said that, I have not seen him play more consistently than I have in his role coming off of the bench this week.

Thompson and Mozgov are where they now belong in the rotation and I don’t anticipate that changing unless the very healthy and reliable Thompson goes down with an injury. As a Cleveland sports fan it is impossible to not have thoughts of an injury in the back of your mind considering the storied history of maladies that our sports figures have endured that end of derailing our championship hopes and dreams.

Here is an example of just that type of mindset. During our 117-103 victory of the San Antonio Spurs Saturday night, Kyrie Irving had a moment where he seemed to fall awkwardly on his knees and just played there for a moment.

Of course, ABC decided it was a perfect time to take a commercial break without addressing or showing whether Irving stood back up and appeared to be fine. The entire commercial break I was fidgeting in my seat while praying that I would not see an image of trainers working on Irving as soon as the broadcast returned.

Thankfully, I did not see that and there was never any mention of Irving getting up slowly or asking to be subbed out. Did I invent this entire scenario in my own mind or did I simply interpret things incorrectly?

Regardless, all is well in Cavalier country as our team has seemed to reinvent itself again in January. Some of my readers may wonder why I do not go more in depth about Lebron James’ role and accomplishments with this team.

James is the heart of this team and of course we would not be able to compete at the same level without him. Everyone knows that we can rely on him for scoring, defense and leadership.

From last year’s Finals we know that Lebron is not enough singularly to win us an NBA title. The contributions of Love, Irving, Dellavedova, Thompson, Smith and Shumpert are what will determine our eventual success level.

I would like to go player by player and give my opinion of each of those player’s role as it stands today.

Kevin Love – Love must continue to be a threat both inside the paint and outside the arc. He is getting more lift under his three point shots and we have seen a higher percentage of them being made. Under Coach Lue, he has been asked to produce more under the hoop and has not disappointed.

Kyrie Irving – I’ve said it before and I will say it as many times as it is deemed necessary. Irving is the best finisher in the NBA. His penetration under the basket causes defenders to leave their assignments which provides Smith, Love, Shumpert, James or Dellevedova enough space outside the arc to get off a clean, calculated shot when he kicks it out. Irving has been both hot and cold from long distance but any of those others have the potential to knock those down when called upon. Kyrie is a master facilitator in that respect.

Matthew Dellavedova – Delly has been able to not only find the player that we all cheered for against Atlanta in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, but to improve upon that player as well! He is no longer afraid to drive to the hoop and has shown an amazing increase in his three point percentage. He is a part of this team that could not be easily replaced if we lost him.

Tristan Thompson – His presence in the starting lineup is essential to our success. When matched up against the current King of NBA rebounding Detroit’s Andre Drummond, Thompson out rebounded him 14 to 8! This is an example that Cavs fans will do well to remember as we go up against more of the elite teams in this league.

J.R. Smith – Swish, as they call him, has become a much more important part of this team as the year has progressed. He is not only scoring fairly consistently for us but he is starting to contribute in other areas such as steals that are worth just as much as a basket because it takes potential points off of the board for our opponents.

Iman Shumpert – While Shumpert isn’t getting the minutes of J.R. most games, he is still putting forth his best effort with the minutes that he does get. I always look forward to opponents getting “Shumped” when he is on the floor. He is a true student of his adversaries and likely knows things about their tendencies that they may not even be aware of. This leads to a bevy of great defensive work from him.

We are about to embark on our February journey in the NBA. February brings the All Star Break and an opportunity to not only obtain a status report of the respective teams at the half way point of the season, but to remember why they all started playing the game in the first place; their love for it.

In Cleveland, January has been a month of transition for the second year in a row. I have high hopes of what this iteration of the Cleveland Cavaliers has in store for us in the months ahead.

David Griffin ushers in a Lue era in Cleveland

The Cleveland Cavaliers have set another record this week, though it remains to be seen whether it is one to be proud of or sorry for.

David Blatt celebrates with LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on November 8, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers 101-97. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
David Blatt celebrates with LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena on November 8, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers 101-97. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Around 3:55pm on Friday, the Cleveland sports world let out a collective gasp when it was broken by Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the sports world’s premier NBA insider, that the Cavaliers organization had terminated Head Coach David Blatt. Not only was this news shocking and puzzling but it was simultaneously reported that Assistant Coach Tyronn Lue was being promoted to the position of Head Coach.

Lue would not assume the title of Interim Coach as is the traditional procedure when a coach is unexpectedly fired. He was immediately given the moniker of Head Coach with even some rumors of a two to three year deal already having been negotiated.

The aforementioned record that was set, is that Blatt is the first coach, since the league separated into two conferences, to ever be terminated when his team had the best win/loss record in their conference. That is not exactly what I would have hoped for in terms of a ground breaking statement, but the effectiveness of this strategy is yet to be determined.

Cavs General Manager David Griffin held a press conference Friday and alluded to the team not showing an inability to “galvanize” under Blatt’s leadership. He felt that the team was at a crossroads in terms of fixing this problem and a change needed to be made in order to continue moving towards their common goal of bringing an NBA championship to the City of Cleveland.

The primary and obvious speculation is that the decision, as many have been in the past two seasons, was influenced directly by Lebron James. Both Griffin and James have denied publicly that James had any say or that he was consulted on the final decision.

Do I think James went to Griffin and “suggested” that Lue be promoted and Blatt let go? No, I do not.

Do I think that James has had ups and downs with Blatt in terms of their coach/player relationship and that he may have known in the back of his head that this would be the end result someday? Absolutely, 100%.

It is important to note that the decision of who to name as the head coach of the Cavaliers was made BEFORE James announced his intent to return to Cleveland in July of 2014, and that while Griffin favored Lue to receive the position, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert preferred Blatt. This must have spawned an interesting conversation over at Quicken Loans Arena when the Sports Illustrated cover was revealed.

OK, Blatt is out and Lue is now the head coach of our team. The next question is, how will the team’s strategy and performance change with a coach that is rumored to be more “in touch” with the players?

Our first test of Lue’s coaching prowess would be against our Eastern Conference rival, the Chicago Bulls, on our home court. The team can only improve if Blatt was such a hinderance to their success, correct?

The final score from our matchup against the Bulls at home? A 96-83 loss where the Cavaliers looked listless and unable to execute.

Now this could be explained by the suddenness of the coaching change or from some apparent shifts in substitution patterns that Lue put into place. Whatever the reason, this team should never lose on their home court when they hold their opponent under 100 points.

All they could muster on the offensive end over 4 quarters was 83 points?!? In this particular game the lack of offense was the fault of several factors.

As a collective group, our bench players shot 3/14 for 8 points. Obviously, that is not a typical set of stats for Dellavedova, Shumpert and Tristan Thompson but this certainly contributed to the lack of scoring overall.

The second factor was that we shot just under 41% (9 for 22) from the free throw line. Essentially, the Cavaliers contracted out all of their free throw shooting for the night to Clippers forward Deandre Jordan; quite an embarrassment in my eyes.

The last factor, in my estimation, relates to offensive strategy. The Cavs took 24 three point shots against Chicago and were only able to make four.

This abysmal 16.7% from downtown means that even though we were showing that the long range shots were not going down, we still continued to take them. Is this just an example of the new coaching staff urging the players to “shoot through” their cold streak?

Listen, I was as shocked as anyone to hear of Blatt’s firing. Too often, there is a Twitter explosion (which I engaged in on a small scale right as it happened) and a rush to be the first to write an opinion piece on whether Griffin is a hero or a zero for this.

I knew that I needed time to process everything, hear all sides of the story, and even see our newly appointed coach in action for the first time before I could give my honest opinion on the matter. Now that most of that has occurred I am ready to levy a judgment!

My feeling is that the Cleveland Cavaliers, while possessing the title of best team in the East, showed that under David Blatt’s coaching, that they could not compete consistently against the best teams in the West. Seeing as the goal of management is acquiring a championship, a change needed to be made.

I applaud our GM as he has put himself into the position of being called either a genius or a goat when it is all said and done. He has certainly volunteered to put this team on the back of his decisions, as great leaders should.

Griffin’s legacy in this city is at stake now more than ever. To me, that is the very definition of ALL IN.

Cleveland Cavaliers Fire David Blatt, Hire Tyronn Lue

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Cleveland Cavaliers have fired Head Coach David Blatt and have promoted Assistant Coach Tyronn Lue to the role.

Obviously this move comes as a shock. Under Blatt, the Cavs had a an 83-40 record plus he was 14-6 in the playoffs ultimately where the Cavaliers lost the NBA Finals. I am speechless at this move. It doesn’t make any sense to do this right now. However, it is not the best kept secret that the players seemed to favor Tyronn Lue more than Blatt. Now for the second year in a row, the Cavaliers will have a rookie head coach trying to win the NBA Finals. 

Stay tuned to Cleveland.morethanafan.net for continuing coverage on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

LeBron’s Leadership and Relationship with David Blatt

I’ve had a couple weeks since my last article to sit back and think about what to talk about this week. I usually watch the games, find something/someone that pops out, find a solution/argument and then back that solution/argument up with some statistics and things I see on the court.

A lot has happened with the Cleveland Cavaliers over this two-week span, however. Since my last post on the 17th, the Cavs are 4-4 (including that night, a blowout at home versus the Atlanta Hawks). Though the Cavs are an overall 18-13 on the season, it’s gotten harder this week to talk about the actual results on the court. Not because we can’t, but because it’s been so… underwhelming.

And now there’s another reason why it’s been hard to talk about on-court results. Since the season began, others and I have talked about LeBron’s leadership. LeBron’s always been very well spoken and usually says the right things. But he’s been a mess when he’s talked this year. This includes throwing his younger teammates under the bus at the beginning of the year as well as playing passively on the court to teach his teammates a lesson. Both of which are highlighted here.

When LeBron chose to come back to Cleveland in July, I don’t think there was any question that he would be the leader of this team. As expected, he’s taken it upon himself to try to right this ship: the same ship that’s been losing for four seasons since he departed in 2010. He talked about how his “patience will get tested.” As fans, I think a lot of us knew that we’d have to be somewhat patient. Even with all the talent accumulated this offseason, with only five holdovers from last season, it would take a while for the team to click.

LeBron James high fives Kevin Love cavs

As the season went on, LeBron was rightfully criticized for poor body language, this coming after a 17-point loss to the Toronto Raptors. LeBron said, “I’m just saying this is not the biggest adversity point that we’ll hit.” Little did we know some of the adversity the Cavs would be facing would be because of their leader.

The Cavs are two months into the season now. Things have gone from good, to sketchy, to murky. LeBron has done nothing to help that cause off the court. If anything, he’s hurt the perception of this Cavs team and hasn’t done anything to prevent the cloud forming over the organization. With the team not performing to many people’s perhaps unattainable expectations early in the season, the collective finger is starting to be pointed at rookie head coach David Blatt.

Before LeBron committed to Cleveland, there were rumblings that the hiring of David Blatt lessened the likelihood of a James reunion with the Cavs.

So even before they joined the same organization, there was the possibility that LeBron wouldn’t back Blatt. That’s not LeBron’s fault at all, but it’s a theory that’s existed and hasn’t been completely destroyed. The latter part is partly due to the way LeBron has acted on the floor and what he’s said to the media, which includes these nuggets from Monday:

He’s not slamming Blatt, but he’s also not exactly offering a ringing endorsement either. Which strikes me considering Blatt compliments LeBron at every turn – which makes sense since he’s the best basketball player in the NBA. Even still, there have been obvious plays and games where LeBron has looked disinterested. When given the opportunity to give some kind of criticism, Blatt has turned it down.

Again, there are so many things that are going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. Maybe Blatt is a total nightmare in the locker room – I personally don’t get that sense.

It’s also hard to fully know how LeBron has been as a leader. Obviously even the most locked in media member can’t fully know what he does behind closed doors. But that’s only part of where leadership takes place. LeBron could be the best leader in the world when helping his teammates in the locker room. But that all falls apart when he’s slacking heavily on defense, going into “chill mode” during games, and arguing with refs instead of running the floor. That part isn’t speculation. This is stuff shown for the entire world to see and his leadership from an on-the-court standpoint has been extremely disappointing.

LeBron builds himself up as a leader, and that is very commendable, especially with a group that has mostly never played with each other before. But actual leaders lead by example, not just by their voice. And actual leaders let themselves be coached.



David Blatt LeBron James cavs

David Blatt has been profiled as a “genius” by multiple basketball personnel and players. At the beginning of the preseason, there was actual off-ball movement! This is something we rarely saw with Mike Brown. However, it seems like this part of the offense has progressively gotten worse and inconsistent from game-to-game and play-to-play. Overall, they’re still ranked fourth in the league in offensive rating. Even still, CBS’s Matt Moore expressed just how inconsistent the Cavs have been on offense.

There has also been heavy criticism of Blatt for his use of Kevin Love and not involving him in the offense as much as he should. In short, Blatt hasn’t exactly hit the ground running in his first couple months as a head coach. This could be a reason why LeBron has looked sluggish at times, a sign that he hasn’t bought into what Blatt is selling.

But even if Blatt’s plan doesn’t fly with LeBron, should it have that much of an effect on his effort? It’s entirely possible LeBron could be using “chill mode” to save himself for the playoffs. While LeBron not giving his all (which he’s refuted he’s been doing) is a tough pill to swallow, it’d be even worse if he was doing it to stick it to his coach because he didn’t agree with his principles.

LeBron’s been no stranger to experimenting this year, so the one thing I ask of him is that he give Blatt his full effort and focus. I feel weird saying that considering it was reported that LeBron had learned Blatt’s system unbelievably fast. But the amount of ill-fated isolation jumpers LeBron has taken, coupled with the streaks of lacking ball movement lead me to believe that what Blatt intended on teaching these guys hasn’t been fully accepted.

My fears slightly came to fruition as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein reported that there was dissention between Blatt and the players. This is what led to LeBron being asked about Blatt on Monday.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors

While we probably won’t know if any of this is true until the end of the season, it is a bit troubling, even if it was predictable. If it happens to be true that LeBron would rather have Cavs assistant Tyronn Lue (or someone else) as coach over Blatt and is leading over into LeBron’s performance and attitude, it’s obviously a disservice to anyone involved with the Cavs. Lue may turn out to be a good NBA head coach some day, maybe even for the Cavs, but the players owe it to Blatt to give him a fair shot. Not only because it’s just, but because we’ll never know how truly great Blatt can be unless the players fully buy in. Don’t get me wrong, the players buying in also falls on Blatt’s ability to sell it to them. But this is the third year in a row where we’re talking about a Cavs team that’s not connecting with its head coach. At some point the players have to put their trust in the coach.

This includes LeBron having an open and direct relationship with David Blatt. At some point when LeBron started to take over as the main distributor for the Cavs, he was asked if he consulted with Blatt to consume more of the point guard role. “No, I can do it on my own,” James said of his role change. “I’m past those days where I have to ask.”
(*Editor’s note: h/t to Fear The Sword for that quote. Apparently that part was scratched from ESPN’s original post since it’s not in there anymore.)

Since LeBron’s five finals appearances and two championships, it feels like he’s become too entitled. Of course when you accomplish all the things he has, you get to do and say some stuff other players don’t. That’s just the way things work. But even guys like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady work with their coaches on plays and strategies. I don’t think LeBron is completely ignoring Blatt, but when you create a role for yourself without telling the head man, that’s just not right. That right there tells me that LeBron hasn’t fully bought in yet.

Even if he does something for the betterment of the team, it’d probably be nice to tell the head coach so everyone’s on the same page. A true leader doesn’t block off his coach from his plans. All these players look up to LeBron. As we’ve seen, it’s been usually as LeBron goes, so do the Cavs. If LeBron starts off passive and disinterested, his teammates will follow. If LeBron comes out attacking and getting everyone involved, the Cavs will respond positively. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s one that LeBron has welcomed but hasn’t fully conquered yet.

A lot of negative stuff has come out this past week about the Cavs. It was only a matter of time with this team, a team that brought on all the hype, that outsiders started to rain on the parade and point fingers when they went through some adversity. And though I’ve been put off by what LeBron has done not related to his actual play, I’m still willing to be patient, as we all should with whatever problem we think is going on with the Cavs.

The end game here is where the Cavs are at in April. The wins and losses are nowhere near as important in year one as the chemistry and togetherness is. What makes these Cavs different than the Miami Heat of fours years ago is a Dwyane Wade to keep LeBron in check and a Pat Riley that LeBron fears. But over time I think guys like David Griffin and Blatt rub off on LeBron and they naturally build a good chemistry. This would more than likely trickle down to LeBron’s teammates and we can finally see the Cavs play basketball instead of worrying about who hates who.

Times are a bit rough right now, but I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll have a better outlook on this dichotomy between player and coach. With likely four months left in the season, they both have a chance to make my thoughts here look silly and start to look like the team we all hoped they would.

Tyronn Lue joins Cleveland Cavaliers as associate head coach

A few days ago, it was reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers had narrowed their coaching search down to Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt and Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue. As everyone found out last Friday, Blatt was named the new head coach of the Cavs. According to a report by Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski today though, it appears the Cavs obtained both of their final candidates.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 5.24.52 PM

 

 

 

 

 

Lue accepted the Cavs offer today to become the new associate head coach alongside head coach Blatt. Lue, 37, spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach to Doc Rivers with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers. Lue also played 11 seasons in the NBA for seven different teams and won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers (2000, 2001).

According to Wojnarowski, Cavs GM David Griffin was pushing hard to land both coaches, and Blatt and Lue have been in frequent talks of late. Griffin and the Cavs are ecstatic to have landed both coaches and believe that Lue will complement Blatt very well.

Lue spent most of his career as a backup point guard, but has been a part of some great playoff teams. He has also worked with Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo, which bodes well for Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Cavs guards. Hopefully he will be able to work with Irving and instill more leadership and maturity into the team.

It’s sort of shocking to see Lue leave Los Angeles and his mentor, Rivers, for the Cavs without being named the head coach. It’d be nice to assume that he see’s great potential in the franchise and is eager to work alongside Blatt. Wojnarowski also reported, however, that it’s believed to be a “financially strong assistant coaching package” for Lue. Let’s go ahead and assume Lue values the money and the situation. Nevertheless, it’s great to see Griffin land both of his finalists. Now let’s hope he nails this draft on Thursday.

Cavs Get Blatt

Precisely 39 days after Mike Brown was let go for the second time, the Cleveland Cavaliers have named former Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach David Blatt to the same title. He also coached Russia’s national team from 2006 to 2010, coaching NBA players such as Andrei Kirilenko (who likes Blatt over Phil Jackson, for what it’s worth), Alexey Schved, and current Cavalier Sergey Karasev. He also coached former Cavalier Anthony Parker. Blatt becomes the 20th head coach in Cavs history, and the third one in as many years.

The 55-year-old’s name may be unfamiliar to many NBA fans, which is more than reasonable. He’s never played or coached in the NBA before. It wasn’t until June 5th when his name started to surface as a potential assistant coach on Steve Kerr’s staff in Golden State. But his name has been known and respected for much longer than that by NBA people.

(Notice the date on that tweet)

A day after news broke that Blatt was being courted by the Warriors, it was rumored that the Cavs were looking at him, among others, for the Cavs’ head coaching vacancy. The list would grow and included Bills assistant Adrian Griffin, Clippers assistants Tyronn Lue and Alvin Gentry, and former Cavs player and current Bobcats assistant Mark Price. In the end, it reportedly came down to Blatt and Lue, with Blatt edging out Doc Rivers’s four-year protégé.

Coming into the Cavs coaching search initially, my top guy was Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg. I highlighted why I thought he, among other newbie NBA head coaches, would be a good hire for the Cavs. After he and other college head coaches were shot down, I was basically willing to settle with any assistant they were looking at, namely Griffin and Lue. But when the report came out on June 6th that Blatt was in consideration, that sealed it for me. The more I read about the guy, the more I liked him and the more I thought he was the perfect fit for this team. My only hope then was that David Griffin had enough leash from Dan Gilbert to be able to make such a “bold” hire.

Some will be concerned about Blatt never being involved with the NBA, playing and coaching his whole pro career overseas (he played in college at Princeton). Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnorowski started the foundation of my Blatt interest, when he broke the news that Blatt was being considered in Golden State. From the article: “As one major college coach who has studied Blatt’s offense this spring told Yahoo Sports recently, ‘I am not sure there is anyone in the U.S. with the kind of creative efficiency or ability to change constantly like David Blatt has. He utilizes what his players do as well as anyone I’ve ever watched.’”

The next piece on Blatt I read was from Sheridan Hoops writer and Israel’s Maccabi Rishon Lezion assistant coach A.J. Mitnick. It was actually an open letter to New York Knicks president Phil Jackson about considering Blatt for their then opening at head coach before former Laker/Jazz//Thunder player Derek Fisher was hired. Though it was specifically for the Knicks, there were still a lot of points that he made that would be a great case for many team’s openings.

After reading this, I came away thinking that Blatt was a coach who’s able to adjust to adversity, uses his players in a way that maximizes their strengths, and has a strong team concept. “This season in Maccabi, Blatt has led a group that over 60 games into the season (the Israeli league playoffs are still going on) has a leading scorer averaging 11 points a game, but a whopping 11 players averaging 6 points or more.

“Throughout Blatt’s time with Maccabi, it has been abundantly clear that his players have little interest in their stats or individual glory, and have organizationally embraced valuing the success of the club over individual achievements.”

Obviously going from a head coach in Israel to a head coach in the NBA will require some adjustments, but coaching is coaching. On top of that, all the information from basketball people I’ve seen on Blatt has been overwhelmingly positive, dating back all the way to 2012, as you can see above.

Here are some examples of how Blatt is seen throughout the league:

Also, here’s a nicely done article by Stepien Rules’s Brendan Bowers and an interview he had with one of David Blatt’s former players and former Ohio State point guard Scoonie Penn.

The great thing about the Blatt hire is that we will most likely be able to see a more balanced team, with him being known as a great offensive mind and the “architect” of Maccabi Tel-Aviv’s defense, as Bowers touches on in his article. I’m a big proponent of letting a young team, which the Cavs are, run the floor when they have the ball and taking open shots. Too many times last year they were taking long, contested jumpers deep in the shot clock. Should the Cavs players take to Blatt’s coaching, we should see an emphasis on both sides of the court, instead of just one.

My hope for the Cavs going forward with Blatt is that he can finally get Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters to mesh together. Though, when we get to the first game of the season that may not be possible.

Regardless of what happens with Waiters, after Irving’s relatively down season, Blatt seems like the perfect guy to bring out the best in Irving, given he and the Cavs get an extension done this offseason. Speaking of the offseason, there’s still more moves to be made, including June 26th, the NBA Draft. I’ll have more on that and who the Cavs could pick on Tuesday.

And if you’re still not sold on Blatt…

Contrasting reports surface on likely number one pick, Joel Embiid

With the 2014 NBA draft only 13 days away, there’s still a great deal to be determined for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs still have yet to make a coaching hire for this coming season, but it seems likely that they’ll have someone in place before the draft. The Cavs are also still conducting workouts and determining whom they will select with the number one overall pick, if they even keep it.

The Cavs have been linked to an abundance of coaching candidates over the past month, but many reports have seemingly narrowed it down to David Blatt, Tyronn Lue, Alvin Gentry and possibly Mark Jackson. Blatt announced yesterday that he would be leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv in order to pursue his dream of working in the NBA. It’s still unclear which team–and position–he will be working for, but he supposedly has an in-person interview with the Cavs sometime next week. Lue and Gentry are the only candidates who have been reported to have two interviews with the Cavs thus far. Jackson has simply been linked to being on the Cavs radar of late, by none other than ESPN’s Chris Broussard and his never-failing sources. There’s sure to be more details on the Cavs’ coaching development over the next week.

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As far as where the Cavs are in determining which prospect to select with the number one pick, so far they’ve only had Joel Embiid in for a workout and medical test. According to @PDcavsinsider, Andrew Wiggins will be working out for the Cavs next Wednesday and Jabari Parker next Friday.

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That means there will be only six days until the draft after Parker–the last of the top three prospects–works out in Cleveland.

Now, if the Cavs keep the number one pick, the obvious and best choice for them is either Embiid or Wiggins. Parker is the best player right now and should have the most immediate impact (he’s my early choice for Rookie of the Year), but Embiid and Wiggins are clearly the best prospects with the most upside and star-potential. It then really comes down to the results of Embiid’s tests in Cleveland and how they view his long-term health. It was reported earlier this week that all of the tests came out positive and his workouts were a success.

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This morning, however, radio host Tony Rizzo claimed from his “sources” that Embiid’s physical with Cleveland did not go well.

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I see no reason for the Cavs to leak this sort of information and devalue the first overall pick, and every other report that’s surfaced has been positive about Embiid’s workout. Suffice it to say that there will undoubtedly be countless more rumors swirling about the top three prospects as they continue to workout for teams over the next week and a half.

IF everything did check out with Embiid and there appears to be no long–term problems, he should be the number one pick. Yes, the league has shifted from teams coveting dominant big men to now valuing two-way wings, but players like Embiid are rare. Embiid has been most often compared to Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan thus far, and if you’ve been watching this year’s NBA Finals (or the last 15 years of the playoffs), you know how valuable Duncan’s skill set is. The Miami Heat have the best wing in the league in LeBron James, but Duncan–and even Boris Diaw–has caused them absolute fits. Having a big who can post-up, face-up, knock down the mid-range shot, pass out of the post, make the right play out of double-teams, rebound at a high rate, protect the paint, block shots, all while keeping his teammates involved is a true commodity in today’s NBA. These are all things that Embiid is capable of and will continue to get better at. Yes, Wiggins is an athletic freak that will immediately contribute on defense and likely end up like a Kawhi Leonard or Nicolas Batum, but passing on Embiid is probably scarier than passing on Wiggins (and I’m extremely high on Wiggins).

The possibility of pairing Kyrie Irving and Embiid together for the next 5+ years is salivating as a Cavs fan. Having your franchise point guard and center in place, and then building around them seems like the best recipe for success at the moment. Especially with the assets and cap space that the Cavs also have now and over the next couple of years. There are plenty of options out there for the Cavs to consider in every aspect of this offseason, but if they can nail this coaching hire, number one pick and free agency; Cavs fans might actually be able to finally escape basketball purgatory.