CLEVELAND — A person familiar with the decision says the Cleveland Cavaliers have fired coach David Blatt, who led the team to the NBA Finals last season.
Blatt was dismissed Friday, said the person who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the move. Blatt’s top assistant, Tyronn Lue, will to take over as coach, the person said.
The Cavaliers (30-11) host the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.
Blatt’s firing came one day after the coach was defensive following the team’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Blatt was bothered by criticism his team led by LeBron James received after a 34-point loss to the defending champion Warriors on Monday.
Blatt’s second season was going better than his first year, when he struggled to adapt to the NBA game after being a successful coach in Europe. But despite injuries and a team learning to mesh with stars James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, the Cavaliers still made it to the finals before losing to the Warriors in six games.
After Thursday night’s win over the Clippers, Blatt shared a moment with James at his locker. The pair shook hands and smiled at each other, without any hint that a coaching change could be forthcoming. Moments earlier, Blatt was defensive about comments made about his team in the wake of the blowout loss to the Warriors. He argued that his team deserved more credit than it was getting and said he was doing so because “it’s about my guys.”
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