Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mayfly existence

NBA coaches get paid short tons of cash for a reason, and that reason is not because the care and feeding of a major corporate entity is their responsibility. They get paid short tons of cash because some of them wind up being David Blatt.

Who, in a season-and-a-half with the Cleveland Cavaliers, went 83-40.

Who, as a rookie head coach in the NBA, got his team to the NBA Finals.

Who, so far this season, has the Cavs at 30-11, the third best record in the league behind Golden State and San Antonio, who are having seasons that threaten to shatter history.

Not the sort of resume you expect would prompt a panic firing, but that's exactly what happened yesterday. The Cavs showed Blatt the door in the middle of January, the sort of move you only expect from a desperate organization in complete disarray. The Cavs are assuredly not that, yet the panic firing happened anyway.

There are lots of theories as to why, and most of them, frankly, don't amount to much. There'll be talk that the players didn't respect his knowledge, or that (more to the point) LeBron James, the only player that matters here, didn't respect his knowledge, and blah, blah, blah. Cavaliers management vehemently denied that LeBron played the role of coach-killer here, but everyone just snickered at at that. LeBron-Blatt is Magic Johnson-Paul Westhead all over again, and no amount of ferocious denial from Cavs officials, or LeBron himself, is going to make anyone think otherwise.

Which gets us back to why NBA coaches are paid so well.

They're paid so well because, as the Blatt firing demonstrates, they have absolutely zero job security. The NBA is a player-run league and if the players don't like you, whether it's for legitimate reasons or just silly ones, it doesn't matter how many games you win. Eighty-three in a year-and-a-half will not be enough, especially if management has decided you should have won 83 in one season, and won the NBA title by going through the playoffs undefeated.

Because, listen, as unrealistic as that is, something like it is surely the mindset in Cleveland now. That Golden State is simply and obviously better than the Cavs will never be acknowledged by any of them, no matter how true it is.

So Blatt is out and Tyronn Lue is in, and here we go again. It's hard to see how he's going to get much more out of the Cavs than Blatt was getting -- they were, after all, 8-2 in their last 10 games -- but, hey, whatever. If Lue can manage to lose to Golden State by single digits next time instead of 32 points (a crush-job in January that undoubtedly, if absurdly, was likely the last straw for Blatt), firing Blatt will no doubt be viewed as a great move.

Even if Golden State would have whacked anyone in the galaxy by 32 points the night they routed the Cavs, and everyone with a working porch light could see it. Sometimes the Warriors are just that good, and its delusional to think otherwise.

 In the meantime ... someone will surely pick up Blatt. If he wants it. If enough short tons of cash are involved.

I'm thinking Powerball money might do it. Might.

Update: Cavs lost to Bulls at home by 13 in first post-Blatt game, after going 8-2 in their previous 10 games. Yessir, he was surely the problem.

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