The Cleveland Cavaliers, led by stars LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, reportedly held a players-only meeting after former head coach David Blatt was fired, according to Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN.com.
The meeting went from "an airing of grievances" among the players to "an agreement that has been a basis for the Cavs' recent strong play."
It followed general manager David Griffin informing the team of the decision to fire Blatt on Jan. 22 and promote then-assistant Tyronn Lue. Griffin reportedly asked veteran James Jones to organize and facilitate the meeting.
"It was like ripping off a scab," a team source told Windhorst and Lowe. "And it was exactly what needed to happen, I think it was what [Griffin] was hoping for."
Irving went into more details on the specifics of the meeting, per Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report:
As we had our talk about a week ago after all the changes, we sat down and addressed what we needed to address. Coming in, we're not worried about shots, not worried about people being selfish with the shots that they're getting. We just want to have an equal offense, and if you're open, take the shot.
Getting back on defense, miss or make. Holding each other accountable and expecting excellence on that end. Offensively, we're talented enough to get any shot that we want if we're staying aggressive and getting downhill on our pick-and-rolls.
Windhorst and Lowe also noted that a major aspect of the meeting was accountability and how different rules seemed to apply to different players. They wrote, "In what could turn out to be a key moment in their tenures together, James, Irving and Love came to an understanding that they needed to police each other on certain matters and use their influence within the team to set a standard for accountability, sources said."
One area of accountability was James' effort level when he grows frustrated. He was encouraged to set a stronger example for his teammates in those moments, per Windhorst and Lowe.
Since the change of coaches and the players-only meeting, the Cavs are 4-1, including a victory over the San Antonio Spurs. The team is relying on more ball movement to generate offense, averaging 27 assists per game under Lue. They averaged 22 assists per game under Blatt, per Swartz.
In their four wins, they are also averaging 115 points per contest.
Perhaps no player has benefited more than Love, whose numbers and role under Blatt were dramatically reduced compared to what he had grown accustomed to with the Minnesota Timberwolves. In his last three games, he's averaging 23.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. For the season, he's averaged 16.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.
Of course, the real test for the Cavs in the Lue era will be whether their strong play can continue beyond this honeymoon phase. Having three superstars like James, Love and Irving is a balancing act of egos, one Blatt wasn't able to navigate.
On the other hand, few teams have more talent, on paper, than Cleveland. If the players indeed came to a better understanding of how to coexist and Lue's strategic changes continue to invigorate the team, few squads will be able to compete with the Cavaliers.
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