Cavaliers GM David Griffin was hesitant to say anything negative about former coach David Blatt, but the executive did contend that Blatt wasn’t the right person to lead the team’s current roster, Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer writes. “David really didn’t do anything inherently wrong,” said Griffin. “It just wasn’t the right fit. We [the players] are radically more engaged with each other [since Tyronn Lue took over as coach]. You can see it on an night-in, night-out basis just by watching the bench during games.”
When asked about the Cavs’ record being worse under Lue than under Blatt this season, Griffin responded, “I told everyone that things were likely to get worse before they got better after the change,” said Griffin. “I know the [coaching] change was somewhat unprecedented. We were going to make some significant changes, and it was going to take Ty a while to get his feet on the ground. At one point, we had 23 games in 41 days. When Ty took over, we were changing offensive and defensive schemes and there were periods where we had absolutely no practice days. We put him in a very tough spot.”
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- Pistons rookie swingman Stanley Johnson has embraced the challenge of guarding LeBron James in his first-ever playoff series, which is in line with the competitive fire that made the team enamored with him in the first place, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com writes. “Stanley’s toughness and competitiveness and the fact that he’ll never back down, that’s not been a concern all year,” coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said. “What he’s got to do is play smarter, make better decisions and continue to work on his skills. I never have a doubt about his competitiveness. If you’re not a competitor, a great competitor at 19, my guess is at 22 you’re not going to be a great competitor, either. That to me is just sort of part of the personality. Now you’ll learn to play situations better, you maybe won’t make the mistakes about being nervous, you’ll have seen things more. All of those things will change, but the competitiveness to go out and play the best player in the world and not be afraid and all of that. If he didn’t have that now, I don’t think he’d have it in three years, quite honestly.”
- The plethora of talented young defensive players the Wolves possess makes former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau the perfect choice to lead Minnesota into contention, opines Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.
- The Hawks have once again assigned swingman Lamar Patterson to the Austin Spurs of the NBA D-League, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution relays. Patterson will play in the deciding game of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles D-Fenders tonight, Vivlamore notes.