Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt has been under the microscope ever since the arrivals of LeBron James and Kevin Love. And earning a trip to the conference finals may not be enough for Blatt to keep his job.
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Bucher Weighs in on Blatt's Future With Cavs
Friday, May 15
Speaking on The Doug Gottlieb Show, Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher believes that Blatt, despite his success in Cleveland, isn't guaranteed to remain with the Cavaliers next season. When asked if he thinks Blatt will be gone regardless of how the team finishes, Bucher gave his opinion:
I do, I do. And maybe there's a benevolence with LeBron James where he says, "You know what, I don't really care. You want to keep him, you can keep him. I don't care." But just from everything that I've heard, I mean LeBron doesn't even communicate through him. During the game, have you ever seen him when he's talking to the bench? He's talking to the assistants. He doesn't recognize David Blatt's presence. So maybe in his list of things to do during the offseason, LeBron forgets to put on it, "Oh yeah, get rid of that David Blatt guy." And Blatt is back next year. But that would be the only reason.
The Cavs team that Blatt joined on June 20 was radically different from the one that emerged after James' tell-all to Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins on July 11. Cleveland went from a fringe playoff contender in 2014-15 with young building blocks like Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett to a title contender almost overnight. The trade for Love only ramped up the pressure for Blatt.
As the newly acquired players failed to jell with the incumbent starters early in the year, many wondered whether Blatt was far from the axe. James' comments regarding his head coach in December weren't exactly a ringing endorsement, per Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group:
Cavs general manager David Griffin denied in January that Cleveland was looking to fire Blatt, and that faith proved warranted as the team's results turned around in the second half.
But Blatt is once again seemingly on the hot seat, especially after he nearly cost the Cavaliers a win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. His response to the criticism didn't exactly endear him to basketball followers, either, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com:
Regardless of those minor blips, Blatt's reign has otherwise proved fruitful. The team is in the conference finals, having eliminated the Chicago Bulls without the services of Love.
Hiring an international coach with no NBA coaching experience is bound to come with growing pains. Then, you throw in how what was expected of Blatt grew exponentially within a month of him taking the job.
You can't fully discount the idea that the Cavaliers would fire Blatt after only a year—look at Mike Brown—but most would agree the 55-year-old has bought himself some more time.