Coach David Blatt made his NBA head coaching debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers this past season and it was a huge success, leading his squad to a 53-29 record. The record was good for first in the Central Division second overall in the Eastern Conference behind the Atlanta Hawks (60-22). The Cavaliers ended up being short-handed a large majority of the 2014-2015 season.
LeBron James missed some time due to a sore left knee and back last year. James missed a total of two weeks and Blatt was able to keep his team above a .500 record until he returned. Anderson Varejao was lost due to a devastating Achilles’ tendon tear. To add insult to injury, Blatt was forced to make adjustments when Kevin Love was lost to a season-ending shoulder injury in the first round of the playoffs against Boston. Star point guard Kyrie Irving was lost for the rest of the NBA Finals as well when he fractured his knee cap.
You can argue that if all Cleveland wasn’t hampered by injuries, the 2015 NBA title would have been theirs. Sure, coming just two games within a title was a great feat, but no one plays seven months of professional basketball to lose just two games from the championship. People say the Cavs getting far is all due to LeBron James being a great player, but a lot of the credit should be given to Coach David Blatt. At the same time, however, if anyone is going to take the blame for not winning a championship, it will likely be Blatt.
After all of the rumors surrounding LeBron James and David Blatt last season, it’s important for LeBron to be more of a leader by coming out and actually acknowledging his coach this season. It wasn’t a good look for James after the 2015 Finals. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported on exactly how the situation looked from the sidelines.
“And we likewise saw LeBron emasculate Blatt in ways that are simply unbecoming of a player of James’ legend-in-the-making stature.
I saw it from close range in my role as sideline reporter through the Finals for ESPN Radio. James essentially called timeouts and made substitutions. He openly barked at Blatt after decisions he didn’t like. He huddled frequently with Lue, often looking at anyone other than Blatt.
There was James, in one instance I witnessed from right behind the bench, shaking his head vociferously in protest after one play Blatt drew up in the third quarter of Game 5, amounting to the loudest nonverbal scolding you could imagine — which forced Blatt, in front of his whole team, to wipe the board clean and draw up something else.”
Ultimately, if James doesn’t want Blatt, the Cavs will end up hiring another coach. In reality, however, Blatt is far and above the best coaching option for the Cavs. Blatt talked about his relationship with his superstar player.
“I have a good relationship with him,” Blatt said after the Finals to the Jerusalem Post. “We went through a process. It took us time to get to know each other. We learned how to work together the best way possible.”
“When you work with a star of that magnitude, the relationship is slightly different. It isn’t like with any other player. I learned from this process. We both want the same thing but don’t always agree about everything.”
Another reason Blatt will be the scapegoat is because the front office went out and really spent a lot of money this offseason. With multiple long term contracts and a few important signings remaining, the Cavs will not have a lot of room to change the roster in the next couple of seasons. Owner Dan Gilbert will not be shy spending money, especially when he knows he is putting a contender out on the floor.
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Matthew Dellavedova signed a one-year deal. Mo Williams, J.R. Smith, and LeBron James all signed two year deals, but only James is expected to opt out of his deal next summer in order to sign a larger contract. Iman Shumpert got a four year, $40 million and Kevin Love signed a 5-year, $113 million deal. All of these deals don’t even include the 5-year, $94 million Kyrie Irving signed and the three year, $30 million Anderson Varejao signed last offseason. Oh yeah, and the Cavs are still waiting on the Tristan Thompson fiasco to come to an end. It’s believed that he will sign a long term deal with the Cavs, but that situation can do either way.
The money has been spent and it is now time for coach David Blatt to lead this team to two more playoff wins from last year. There is a lot of pressure on Blatt and this year could be considered championship or bust for the team. However, regardless of the outcome look for the front office to retain David Blatt and have him as the Head Coach for a long time.
Regardless of the outcome next season, Blatt deserves to be the long term option at head coach for the club. We’re going to go and say that he’s even got enough potential to become a Phil Jackson-like coach. Jackson had to start somewhere, so it’s only right that a coach with Blatt’s resume be given the chances to succeed.
Cavs Media Day is set for September 28, and training camp begins the following day. The road to a ring starts there, and there’s no reason why Blatt won’t be able to get it done and silence of his critics.