The Cleveland Cavaliers fired head coach David Blatt on Friday, and hired assistant coach Tyronn Lue as his replacement, the team announced Friday.
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news.
According to Wojnarowski, Lue agreed to a three-year deal worth more than $9.5 million to replace Blatt. Lue, a former NBA point guard, has served as an assistant with the team since joining Blatt’s staff in 2014 and had previously coached with the Clippers (2013–14) and Celtics (2009–2012) under Doc Rivers.
“I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Blatt wrote in a statement released through his agency. “I’d like to thank Dan Gilbert and David Griffin for giving me this opportunity and am honored to have worked with an amazing group of players from LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love through our entire roster. I’d also like to express my extreme gratitude to my coaching staff. I am indebted to them for their professionalism, hard work and friendship. I am proud of what we have accomplished since I have been the head coach and wish the Cavaliers nothing but the best this season and beyond.”
Cleveland.com’s Chris Haynes reports that Blatt had trouble drawing plays out of timeouts and would freeze up. One player told Haynes that Blatt would draw up plays for players that were not even in the game.
The Cavaliers are 30–11 and hold a 3 1/2 game lead in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland went to the Finals last season under Blatt in his first year as head coach, falling to Golden State in six games. The Cavs were blown out by the Warriors last week, 132–98, but won consecutive games against the Nets and Clippers entering Saturday’s game against the Bulls.
Blatt was named the Eastern Conference coach of the month for October and November combined.
Blatt was hired in June 2014, around two weeks before James decided to leave the Miami Heat and rejoin the team as a free agent. Blatt went 83–40 in 123 games as head coach of the Cavaliers. According to Elias Sports, Blatt is the first NBA head coach to be fired with his team atop its conference since the league began conference play. Blatt and Byron Scott are the only coaches since 2000 to be fired in midst of the season immediately after leading their teams to the Finals.
Blatt previously served as head coach of Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the Euroleague and coached Russia to a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics.
According to reports, Cavs star LeBron James was not consulted on the decision to fire Blatt, and was informed by the team this morning. Wojnarowski reports that James and agent Rich Paul have advocated in the past for Lue to become head coach.
- Jeremy Woo