David Blatt‘s camp believes that LeBron James was the sole catalyst for the Cavs coaching change, and the belief is much more than simply a fringe theory among people around the league, reports TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip for NBA.com. Still, plenty of other reasons for Blatt’s dismissal exist, including the team’s poor performance against top Western Conference contenders and the need for immediate results, that suggest that the team isn’t simply serving LeBron’s wishes, Aldridge contends. Regardless, the Cavs cast Blatt back onto the job market, and while the Timberwolves have been linked to Blatt, the team has no intention of pursuing him for a job on interim coach Sam Mitchell‘s staff, league sources tell Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter link). See more from the Central Division:
- Mike Dunleavy is targeting a return sometime next month from the back injury that’s kept him out all season so far, notes K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. He’s essentially at the same point in his recovery that he was before suffering a setback in late November, but he’s more confident this time that he’ll be able to take the final steps toward getting back to game action for the Bulls, according to Johnson.
- Ryan Boatright impressed with the Nets during the preseason, but he didn’t carry that level of performance over to his tenure with the D-League affiliate of the Pistons, which waived him last week. Boatright is now poised to sign with Orlandina of Italy, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. The Pistons briefly had Boatright on their NBA roster on the fall, a maneuver designed to secure his D-League rights.
- The Pacers have recalled Shayne Whittington from the D-League, the team announced. He’s played in just two games at the NBA level this season but has appeared in 19 contests for Indiana’s D-League affiliate after re-signing with the Pacers this past summer.