Could LeBron James be the primary factor in the sudden exit of David Blatt as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers?
On late Friday, reports came out that Blatt, who led the Cavaliers to an NBA Finals appearance just last season, has been fired by the front office in Cleveland.
Blatt’s firing was confirmed first by NBA expert Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports via Twitter:
Cleveland has fired coach David Blatt, sources tell Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) January 22, 2016
A few hours later, the Cleveland management, led by general manager David Griffin told the media that they never consulted James about the decision to fire Blatt.
“I didn’t talk to any of the players before this decision. It’s really critical to me for everybody to understand this is my decision. This is our basketball staff’s decision. I’m not taking a poll,” Griffin said to ESPN on Friday night.
However, most NBA followers and observers believe it’s highly unlikely that the Cavaliers superstar was never consulted with such a big move for a franchise aiming to win an NBA title. James is also widely considered as a player who has influence not only in the head coaching position but also the front office or GM position.
There were also multiple reports during the past two seasons that James and Blatt were not in good terms in Cleveland although both have denied that there is hostility between the two.
The timing of the Blatt’s firing is also interesting as it came just days after the Golden State Warriors completely embarrassed the Cavaliers in their own home court with a 132-98 blowout.
The Cavaliers signed Blatt as head coach in the 2014 offseason but he was named as the mentor before James announced that he was returning to Cleveland. Blatt was a rookie head coach in the NBA last year but he has a rich international basketball experience with oaching stints in basketball leagues in Russia, Italy, Turkey and Israel since 1993.
James’ Cavaliers replaced Blatt with former NBA player and rookie head coach Tyronn Lue, who is believed to be well-liked by the Cavaliers players.
“We believe Tyronn Lue is the right coach at the right time to put us in the best position to take the last but most challenging step to complete our mission to deliver Cleveland an NBA Championship,” the Cavaliers said in a statement via the team’s official website.
As admitted by the Cleveland franchise, Blatt was not the best coach to lead them to an NBA title this season. However, it remains to be seen if LeBron James played a major part in the decision to fire Blatt and promote Lue as head coach.
Photo courtesy: USA Today