So, the Cavs1 fired their coach, David Blatt. Opinion is split between whether he deserved to be let go. People seem pretty one-sided in believing that Lebron James was the prime mover in the decision.
To be fair, Lebron has never exactly been an evangelist for Blatt. That said, David Griffin, the Cavs GM, was nothing if not definitive regarding both why Coach Blatt was let go, and that it was his decision and his alone.
Personally, I have no problem with the firing, or with the timing. Unfortunately for coaches, having the right plan isn’t enough. You need to have a plan, and you need the whole team to buy in. It hasn’t been working2. That’s where I have a problem.
Why do we think things will be any different with Tyronn Lue?
The Cavs’ problem isn’t the talent, and it really hasn’t been the plan. It’s that our stars3 believe they can win games on the offensive end on their own. Sure, they run plays… Running some plays is not the same thing as running an offense.4
In the NBA, a talent advantage usually wins in a 7-game series. The Spurs and Warriors are the only two teams with the talent to keep up with the Cavaliers. The trouble is, both teams have unquestionably better coaching. Tyronn Lue could be a great coach, and Kerr would still be better, and Coach Pop would be much better.
The difference between the Cavs and the Warriors / Spurs comes down to having a system, and having everyone on the team buy in to the system. You can get buy-in a couple of ways. You can have overwhelming, inarguable success,5 you can come from an established ‘coaching tree’,6 or your best players can allow themselves to be coached.
Ty Lue needs to have a system, and LeBron, Love, and Irving all need to buy in- they all need to sublimate their will to that of the team. I haven’t really seen anything indicating they’re willing to do that. Watch a Spurs or Warriors game, and you see everyone playing for each other. Watch a Cavs game, and they pretty much just seem annoyed.7
The real bottom line, I guess, is this: Is there a coach on this planet that can tug Lebron by the jersey, pull him aside, and bark at him when he fucks up, and have Lebron take him seriously? Because that’s the guy the Cavs need.