The Cleveland Cavaliers have fired coach Ty Lue, and have named Larry Drew as the interim coach. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that Cleveland has started the season with six straight losses. Lue made the following statement in regards to his departure:
“My time here in Cleveland was truly special. I am very grateful for the dedication, sacrifice, and support of all the players on our team, the tremendous coaches I worked with and of course, our incredible fans. Lastly, deep thanks to (owner) Dan Gilbert, (former general manager) David Griffin and (general manager) Koby Altman for the opportunity over the last three years and I only wish the organization success moving forward.”
But like I said, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Many have been saying that Cleveland doesn’t have a chance this season, except Tristan Thompson, but the truth is, without LeBron, they’re not doing so well. Drew met with management on Sunday to discuss the terms of a promotion to interim coach. It’s possible that he will seek a more permanent position, but that remains unknown right now. Drew was 8-1 as the interim coach a year ago when Lue was sidelined with an illness. He led Atlanta to the playoffs in each of his three years as heads coach and spent one year at Milwaukee’s head coach in 2013-14.
Lue led the Cavaliers to three straight NBA Finals, including the 2016 NBA championship. Lue had a good career with the Cavaliers – 128-83. But, as I said, it might not be realistic to get back to that point given the loss of LeBron to the Los Angeles Lakers. Koby Altman had this to say about Lue’s departure:
“This was a very difficult decision. It is especially so, considering Coach Lue’s time with us over the last four years, including four straight trips to the NBA Finals. We have respect and great admiration for Ty, not only as a coach but a person. We thank him for the many ways he has contributed to our success, wish him the best and he will always be remembered for leading a very special Cavs team back against the odds to win the title in 2016. This is a different team equation, though, and one that we felt needed a different voice and approach that required this change.”
While I think Lue was a great coach during his time in Cleveland, I do think that it was unrealistic for anyone to think that the Cavs could get back to a place where they can make the playoffs. Maybe in a year or two, once they find their stride again, but I’m not convinced that they will be able to make it very far this year. When Lue replaced David Blatt as Cavs coach in the 2015-2016 season, he was given a deal beyond the balance of that season. He also negotiated a long-term extension after winning a title that spring. Drew will need to prove his worth before the Cavs think about giving him this kind of deal.