The Cleveland Cavaliers are just a few moves away from cleansing themselves of everything LeBron James-related. This past weekend, the Cavs fired head coach Tyronn Lue after an 0-6 start to begin the 2018-19 NBA season. Was it a move of desperation? Yes and no.
While the news reports will say that general manager Koby Altman made the call, truth be told, this was all majority owner Dan Gilbert. The Cavs have struggled to begin the year, but so what? Did they really expect to start the season on a winning note after losing one of the best players in the NBA and not finding a suitable replacement? How does that exactly work?
Lue took over after David Blatt was fired in 2016 after leading the Cavs to an NBA Finals appearance. While that was shocking, to see that Lue would take his place, was not. LeBron and Lue built a great relationship over the years and James’ vote of confidence to Gilbert was all that was needed for Lue to take command of the ship. The problem was, he was never fully in command.
This is and always will be Gilbert’s team and the glaring issue with that is, he runs it off emotions.
When LeBron first left and joined the Miami Heat, Gilbert went on a rant. Then, LeBron came back and for whatever reason, the fans figured the divorce was forgotten. What LeBron did was for his city and his image. It had nothing to do with Gilbert.
When Blatt was fired, a vast majority of that had to do with how Gilbert felt about LeBron. Despite the early breakup, Gilbert knew that he had no choice but to make his superstar happy and comfortable. So out goes Blatt after leading the Cavs to the Finals despite numerous injuries and in comes James’ friend, Lue.
Despite semi-coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers to three straight Finals appearance, Lue’s job was on shaky ground the moment LeBron took his talents to the Los Angels Lakers this offseason. This is what Gilbert wanted. He was waiting for the team to struggle so he could assert his authority back over his team.
What did he expect was going to happen? This 0-6 team is led by Kevin Love. The same Love once regarded as one of, if not the best power forward, in the NBA at one time. However, since coming over to form a new big three with LeBron and Kyrie Irving, he has been a shell of his former self.
This offseason, the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t add Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins or Paul George. They couldn’t even get an aging Carmelo Anthony to come there, which says a whole lot. But yet, Dan Gilbert and Altman felt they had a winning formula with their current roster. Mind you, while they made the Finals last season, this is still the same team just minus LeBron. But what did they think? Did Gilbert really believe offering Love a new deal would change what was expected of them this year?
Where the Cavs are now is where many expected them to be. To put the blame on Lue is fair but it’s also a little too fast. There are teams changing coaches because one hasn’t led them to a winning season in years. Here is Lue, fresh off back-to-back-to-back Finals appearances and because he lost James and six straight to open the year, he was fired.
This firing had more to do with LeBron than it had to do with Lue. Gilbert knew from the beginning that Lue wasn’t qualified to lead a team. But because he wanted to keep LeBron happy, he offered the job. With LeBron gone, all bets were off with Lue’s bodyguard out the way.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a mixture of young players and veterans who on most teams will be backups. Instead of firing Lue, why didn’t Dan Gilbert see what kind of coach he really had? Maybe LeBron left him with greatness at the helm. Things will get worse before they get better and Gilbert has no one to blame but himself, with his emotions.