LeBron James stressed on Saturday that he did not engineer David Blatt’s sacking, claiming that he was surprised and caught off guard by the Cleveland Cavaliers’ coaching change.
James’ admission conflicts with Adrian Wojnarowski’s report on Yahoo Sports. On January 22, Yahoo reported that James’ camp had lobbied for Blatt’s firing. “LeBron James runs the Cleveland (Cavaliers) organization, a choice Dan Gilbert (the GM) made upon the superstar’s return to Northeast Ohio. There’s no shame there,” Wojnarowski wrote.
Wojnarowski also wrote that LeBron wanted Mark Jackson as coach but had to settle for a compromise candidate in Tyronn Lue, who has signed a three-year contract as new head coach of the Cavs. “They (LeBron’s camp) pushed David Blatt out, and found a compromise candidate (in Lue).” Wojnarowski, the acclaimed scoop master, also revealed that “Jackson understood what he needed to do: Bring on James’ and Paul’s Klutch Sports agency as his representation, and prepare to deliver those commission fees into the King’s coffers. Blatt never had a chance.”
A day after Cleveland got routed by Golden State, Morning News USA reported that David Blatt’s days in Cleveland were numbered.
Cavs GM David Griffin has disputed the notion that LeBron doesn’t “run this organization.” When LeBron was posed the question, he said, “That’s not my concern (making coaching changes). I found out about it just like every other player on this team at 3:30 yesterday. I think (Griffin) was right on everything he said (that I don’t call the shots). Like it or love it or hate it, we got to respect it.”
Watch Above: LeBron James reflects on David Blatt’s Firing
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst wrote that LeBron wasn’t consulted before the decision. “For me, I can’t get caught up and worried about what other people are thinking. I stopped doing that a long time ago in my career. The only thing I can worry about is how I can get these guys better prepared and we can play better basketball,” James said ahead of his team’s loss to Chicago Bulls yesterday.
James welcomed Lue as his new coach, addressing their 15-year relationship. “We’ve (Lue and I) been friends since I was 17 years old, but at the end of the day, he’s still the coach and I’m underneath him. He will coach me and push me, and I’ll listen to everything he has to say and go from there. Don’t try to make it a story of why me and Coach Lue are so tight. I think it’s a lot of coaches and players that’s close in this league. It just happened to be me.”
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are leading the Eastern Conference with a 30-12 record. Will the coaching change help them beat the West’s elite come June? Or will they fall flat again?