"It was like an 800-pound gorilla as the season moved on," one person involved with the team said. "You could just see LeBron connecting to [Lue] and turning his back on David."
Finally, James' camp had its way on Friday, the Cavaliers firing the coach of the defending Eastern Conference champions and runaway No. 1 seed. Over a season and a half on the job, associate head coach Tyronn Lue fought hard to stay loyal to Blatt, balancing that line of hearing out James' and Paul's barrages on Blatt and yet still urging them to give the coach a chance.
Let's be clear about James' role here. Did he storm into Dan Gilbert's office after the Golden State debacle and demand that Blatt be fired? Absolutely not. But it has been clear pretty much since the day LeBron returned from Miami that he and Blatt were mismatched. More important, it has been clear within the team for months that James would welcome a scenario in which Lue, with whom James has a close relationship, takes over as head coach. James didn't ask the Cavs to fire Blatt, according to a person familiar with his role. Then again, he didn't have to. James is fully on board with Lue, 38, whose most memorable NBA accomplishment until now was getting stepped-over by Allen Iverson in the 2001 Finals.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Since last season, LeBron James and his agent Rich Paul have been strong advocates of Lue becoming head coach, league sources tell Yahoo.
David Blatt has faced similar issues. LeBron James, Brendan Haywood confirmed, called a players-only meeting in training camp last season and defined everyone's role without the coaches present. Blatt's plan to run the Princeton offense was reduced—some say at James' request—to make room for Doc Rivers' Boston play sets, which put associate head coach and former Rivers assistant Tyronn Lue in charge. James also changed a last-second play called by Blatt in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series with the Bulls, the result being a game-winner by James, a series tied 2-2 and the distinct impression that Blatt's authority had been compromised.
History says LeBron James needs to delegate authority for the team to succeed. David Blatt was reluctant, according to Brendan Haywood, to critique LeBron James in film sessions until Tyronn Lue did it; LeBron, Haywood says, has to allow Blatt the license of correcting him in front of the team or the rest of the players won't respect his criticism of them.
September 24, 2021 | 12:39 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: The Golden State Warriors are signing free agent guard Langston Galloway to a training camp deal, sources tell me and @Anthony Slater.
Marc J. Spears: The Warriors are bringing forward Jordan Bell to training camp as a non-roster invitee, a source told @TheUndefeated @espn. Bell previously played for Golden State from 2017-19 and last season.
September 24, 2021 | 12:28 pm EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: Manu Ginobili is returning to the San Antonio Spurs as a special advisor to basketball operations. Ginobili will take on a player-centric role that’s focused on the development of players on and off the court.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Gregg Popovich, RC Buford and GM Brian Wright have wanted the legendary star’s involvement since his 2018 retirement and helped convince him of a role. Ginobili, 44, is a four-time champion and future Hall of Famer.
Shams Charania: The Detroit Pistons are signing rookie center Luka Garza to a new two-year contract, his agents Mike Kneisley and Odell Witherspoon told @TheAthletic @Stadium. Garza, the No. 52 pick, has his two-way converted to a full NBA deal.