David Blatt has little public support within Cavaliers
A lack of support in the locker room for Blatt could sink the coach’s time in Cleveland.
With the losses and injuries piling up at an unexpected rate in Cleveland, the Cavaliers‘ David Blatt is a coach in need of some public support. However, the team has left Blatt “a man on an island” with a group that doesn’t seem to be connecting with the coach, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal.
“If David Blatt has any chance of succeeding in Cleveland, somebody has to have the guy’s back,” Lloyd wrote. “And right now it feels like no one does. While rumors swirl about his future, the organization has remained silent.”
Coming off a 109-101 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday — the team’s third in four games — there’s been spreading concern that Blatt and his players aren’t on the same page. On Monday, ESPN reported that the Cavaliers were worried about the coach’s “ability to reach the team,” and two days later, the situation hasn’t brightened up.
Star point guard Kyrie Irving appears to be the only player publicly supporting Blatt with any effort at this point, coming to the coach’s defense several times in recent days. In the ESPN report, Irving said the team was in “a really good place.” After the loss to Atlanta, Blatt lavished praise on the point guard.
“I just thought Kyrie played his heart out. I can’t say enough about that kid,” Blatt said. “He’s just a wonderful, wonderful young man who understands what this is about and is doing everything he can to impact it in a positive way. I just think the world of that kid.”
However, Irving ultimately isn’t the driving force behind the Cavaliers, LeBron James is. And while reporters wait for the four-time MVP to make a strong statement supporting his coach, Lloyd says that Blatt “continues to lavish James with praise while his star continues to assault him with a million little paper cuts.”
One of those “little paper cuts” likely came a couple days ago, when James responded to a question about Blatt’s bond with the players by saying, “What other coach do we have?”
While LeBron did qualify that comment and make it clear he wasn’t trying to undermine his coach, it was a telling moment for the relationship between the two. Instead of making a powerful endorsement of Blatt, the Cavs’ franchise player said something much less confident.
So now that’s two major reports in three days detailing the issues between Blatt and the Cavaliers, with more than half of the season remaining for Cleveland. That mean there’s still a good deal of time for all sides to figure things out, but it also means the time to make a change before the final stretch is running out.
The Cavaliers entered this season with a talented roster, and the need for a coach who could parse through all that and put together a winning gameplan. Blatt may still be that man, but right now, it’s getting awfully quiet in Cleveland when the coach could use a positive voice or two.