David Blatt’s tenure as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers mat prove to be a brief one. He seems to have lost the team and is putting his foot in his mouth.
After another lackluster performance by his players in a defeat which led to the Cavaliers falling to only a 500 record, Blatt insulted one of his more popular players. “Well, Kev’s not a max player yet, is he?” Blatt said of Kevin Love.
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The coach explained to ESPN “I don’t pay a lot of attention to social media but I think my comment was either misunderstood or misconstrued. I was simply saying that with our team, he does not have a max contract because we’re not allowed to talk to him about anything until after this season is over. That was really where I was going with that. So I think that’s very unfortunate the way that that turned out. That’s the way of the world sometimes. I guess I got to be clearer in my thoughts.”
“I did mention it to him [Love] just because what I heard [the reaction to it was], but he had no problem with it. He understands as well as I do sometimes things get taken out of context or even maybe I just wasn’t clear in what I meant. But I hope now you understand exactly what I meant. Kevin Love, for me, is a player of the highest order, and whether you want to define that by max contract or any other thing, he’s one of the best players in the NBA, and that’s the way we value him.”
The team’s problems aren’t all Blatt’s fault as its returned star player LeBron James missed more than two weeks before the last game due to injuries. But James embarrassed his coach by pushing Blatt out of the way to argue a foul call by the refs himself.
James’ action was explained away as defending his coach by keeping him from getting called for a technical foul. But regardless of his motives, Blatt did lose his cool, something that NBA coaches are not supposed to do, and he needed one of his players to step in.
Blatt made headlines in June when he was picked by Cleveland to take over the team from his last position as head coach of Israel’s perennial champion Maccabee Tel Aviv basketball team. While born and raised in the US, Blatt had lived in Israel for 30 years and was a local hero having led Maccabee to a Euro League championship and multiple Israeli championships.