The Cleveland Cavaliers have played just 10 games this season, but they’ve already had what feels like decades of drama.
The Cleveland Cavaliers played their first game with Larry Drew as their head coach on Monday night, despite Drew taking over immediately after Ty Lue was fired on October 29. Cleveland played three games with Drew as the “voice” of the team, not the head coach.
Drew, who last was the full-time head coach of a Milwaukee Bucks team that went 15-67, declined to call himself the head coach, interim or otherwise, without some additional time and money added to his deal. That premise is ridiculous.
Drew is a fairly respected coach and he’s been around for a while, but let’s not forget the whole 15-67 thing. If there’s an assistant who could afford to refuse taking the reins of a team, and potentially cost themselves an opportunity they might not get again, it wouldn’t seem to be Drew. Yet, here we were a few days ago. And, inexplicably, Drew won out and got himself a raise and a buyout for next season, if the Cavaliers decide not to bring him back as per Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Cavs will almost certainly hire a new head coach and a new staff this summer, as part of their larger move away from being LeBron James’ team, so they essentially broke down and paid up because their current situation is so bad nobody else wanted to deal with it for 72 more games.
Cleveland having to negotiate from a place of weakness in this situation is ludicrous. There are just 30 NBA head coaching jobs out there. Most of them are locked down for the foreseeable future. They’re highly sought after in almost every circumstance. The Cavs are such a mess, and so poorly regarded, that Cleveland had to cough up some extra money just to get Larry Drew to take over for a while.
Joe Vardon logged many of the examples of the Cavaliers’ dysfunction in this terrific piece he wrote that tries to explain how Cleveland ended up here. The short version is that the front office and coaching staff have given players differing messages all season, contempt is brewing between the young players and the veterans, and during all of this the team has managed to win just one game. Things may somehow get worse before they get better for the Cavaliers.
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