The Cleveland Cavaliers got blown out 110-93 by the Toronto Raptors at home on Saturday night, falling to 5-7 on the season.
They have now lost four-straight games.
On Sunday Cavaliers beat writer Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal wrote an article about coach David Blatt, who’s having some issues adapting to the NBA after spending decades overseas.
The article contains this anecdote about the dynamic between Blatt, LeBron James, and assistant coach Tyronn Lue:
Blatt had no one to bring with him from Israel, likely because no one was qualified. His top assistant now, Tyronn Lue, was the runner-up for this job and is now believed to be the highest-paid assistant coach in NBA history. He also has James’ familiarity and trust. Whenever LeBron looks to the Cavs’ bench during games, he’s looking at Lue. Every time.
They were such strangers that at his introductory press conference, Blatt mispronounced Lue’s first name.
All of that is … weird.
After the Cavs hired Blatt in June, their first order of business was poaching Lue from the Clippers and making him the highest-paid assistant coach in the league.
A decade ago Tyronn Lue was best known as the guy Allen Iverson emphatically, iconically stepped over in the 2001 NBA Finals. Now he has a $US6.5 million contract and he’s LeBron’s go-to guy on the bench, apparently.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN gave a glimpse into the initial awkwardness of the Blatt-LeBron-Lue triangle:
Lue and Blatt had no previous relationship, which is not ideal for a coach and his top assistant, but there is the inherent circumstance that a man that badly wanted Blatt’s job is now sitting next to him on the bench.
James didn’t meet face-to-face with Blatt for nearly a month after signing with the Cavs, a supposed product of scheduling issues, though it is safe to assume the team gladly would have flown Blatt to any location in the world to spend time with James as the new coach was preparing for his new job over the summer.
LeBron has essentially taken on the role of a player-coach this year, both in his public comments and his body language during games. His relationship with Blatt has been described as non-existent by multiple reporters.
According to Lloyd, Blatt isn’t even trying to exercise control over LeBron:
“Instead, [Blatt] doesn’t dare say a cross word toward his superstar publicly or privately. Nobody right now is telling LeBron what he can or can’t do.”
If there’s anything we learned from 2010-11 Miami Heat — who started 9-8 before making the NBA Finals — it’s that “superteams” of stars who’ve never played together before take months to figure things out. The Cavs team that looks stagnant on offence and slow-footed on defence right now is going to look very different come April. In all likelihood, they’re going to be ok.
But right now there are some bad vibes around this team, and it’s starting to show on the court.
LeBron was caught shaking his head and loafing around when Dion Waiters chucked a 3-pointer against Washington:
He was fuming on the bench late in the blowout loss to Toronto:
Against the Spurs, he awkwardly boxed Blatt out of the huddle:
The Cavs are playing like a team of players and coaches who never met, which they pretty much are.
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