The Cleveland Cavaliers have been through a roller coaster of a first season with a new head coach and with LeBron James back. Every player, coach, and manager had a tough job this season, but the toughest job of the season was easily the one of the head coach, David Blatt.
Blatt has been under fire, it seems, from the day LeBron James announced his return to the Cavaliers. That constant criticism grew when James and the Cavs failed to win the NBA Championship in Blatt’s first year with a banged-up playoff squad.
“I think towards the end LeBron was being asked to carry far too heavy a burden offensively,” Griffin said during the press conference. “Frankly, with the other two out he was our only real offensive playmaker, and it was by design that you built it that way because you want to put the right pieces around him.”
“The one thing that we did see in Golden State and it was something that was very difficult for us to deal with, is they have an incredibly versatile team of multiple facilitating playmakers,” Griffin said. “That’s something that coming into last year we told you all we were trying to impact and improve, and we certainly did. That’s something we’re going to continue to work upon. The more playmaking facilitators you have that know how to play the game, the better off you are, and I think you saw the value of that in the team that ultimately did win.”
The burden James was asked to carry is one that probably no other player could possibly have done as well with. James took a team without two of their all-stars while everyone struggled shooting just two victories from Cleveland’s first NBA title in 51 years. LeBron averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists while shooting just 40% from the field in the six-game series.
“From my perspective, I’ve said this all along, you don’t go 33-3 (late in the season) with those guys (Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving) healthy and put together the team we had, have it be an offensive juggernaut, and then have to turn around and play without them, be a defensively stifling team, that literally chokes the life out of a 60-win (Atlanta Hawks) team and sweeps them in a playoff series and have your coach not do a hell of a job. (Blatt) did. I think our whole staff did. And we literally won an incredible number of games against very, very good teams playing radically different styles from each other. So from a purely basketball perspective, I’m not quite sure exactly what anybody is looking to have happen.”
“LeBron himself said he thinks Coach has done a hell of a job,” Griffin said Thursday. “So if you want to use his actual words, that’s what the man said.
After saying that, Griffin then took a shot at the media for the constant rumors, speculation, and criticism regarding Blatt’s job with the Cavs.
“So, I think one thing David (Blatt) did as well as anybody I’ve ever seen, and I wish I did better, was just ignore the noise from the media perspective. Because frankly, none of that means anything. We know what actually takes place here.”
“I can’t say I get upset because there have been so many ridiculous storylines about our team all year that I think you get to the point where you understand it’s just going to go with it.” Griffin added. “This is how it’s going to be. I think, as I said before, it’s difficult for me to understand if you’re going purely on basketball achievements what exactly this team left on the table, given what we had. I just don’t know what we’re really critiquing at this point anymore.”
At the end of the conference, Blatt was asked whether he would continue to coach this time and would like to return, to which he replied with one solid word: