Altman made coaching call; Cavs now ready to 'push forward'

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Koby Altman is the Cavaliers' general manager, so it's his job to decide on a coach.

While he respected Tyronn Lue, Altman didn't like the direction in which the team was headed. And it apparently went beyond the team's 0-6 record.

The Cavs have a mix of returning veterans and some new younger players, and Altman didn't like how it was coming together. Or in the Cavs' case, not coming together.

So he met with his staff and they agreed to move on from Lue. Altman then told team owner Dan Gilbert of his decision. Gilbert indicated Altman should do what he thought was best.

Not long after, the only coach to lead the Cavs to a championship was fired.

"We just didn't think Coach Lue was the right fit for this group," Altman said. "We had a pretty good preseason. I thought I saw some good things. But I think we have a talent level that has underachieved this year."

Altman made clear that the early-season struggles weren't entirely Lue's fault.

"It just hasn't come together the way we wanted," Altman said. "That's not just on Coach Lue. That's on all of us."

DON'T CALL HIM INTERIM

Altman and the Cavs are now turning to lead assistant Larry Drew to coach the team. In a strange twist, Drew doesn't want the "interim" tag before his name. Instead, he appears to want a new contract. Or at least a raise.

Drew didn't really offer specifics. He only said that he and his agent have been in talks with the Cavs on "restructuring" his current deal.

"As I’m sure you know, there is no agreement right now," Drew said. "Me and my agent have been in talks about restructuring my contract. No decision has been made and I’m not sure if one will.”

Either way, Drew seems to be seizing the opportunity. While he admitted to being saddened by the dismissal of his close friend, Drew made it clear he really enjoys coaching the team.

He also intends to add his own personal touch.

"I'm always preaching about keeping the opposition guessing," Drew said. "I don't like being a predictable team. If you can take out the predictability on both ends of the floor, you become a tougher team to defend, and I think you become a better defensive team. I've just been contemplating, thinking about some things I want to do a little bit differently."

PLAYERS ONLY

As for the men in uniform, Drew described Monday's practice as "energized." Many of the players will tell you they let down their coach -- but remain confident things can get better.

"Guys play for coaches that are (expletive) and (expletive) and hope they get fired and they don't care," center Tristan Thompson said. "But T-Lue is a guy that everyone loved. From the medical staff to the front office to the security guards. He's a respectful man, polite, he was happy to be here.

"Everyone loved him and it was definitely sad that he was gone and we had to let him go. At the same time, just have to keep pushing forward."

Thompson later added that the Cavs "definitely haven't played our style." And yes, they still want to try to compete for a playoff spot.

"Nobody has told me that they don't want to win," Thompson said.

For now, the Cavs will take it day by day. Trying to find chemistry when the world's best player bolted in free agency is never a cakewalk. Quite the opposite, and it tends to cost people their jobs.

"This team has enough talent, enough veteran leadership, that we can compete for wins," Altman said. "Demanding wins is a tough thing to do. This is a hard business, this is a really tough league.

"We're demanding being better night in and night out in terms of competing and having a chance to win."