LeBron James offered a tepid endorsement of his coach after the Cavaliers gave up 148 points in today’s loss to the Thunder. In a clip tweeted by Cleveland.com, James responds to a reporter asking whether Tyronn Lue should be fired after the team dropped to 2-6 in its last eight games.
“I would hope not, but really don’t know,” James said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with our team. I have no idea what conversations have been going on. I’ve been trying to stay as laser sharp as I can to keep my guys ready to go out and play.”
Lue signed a five-year, $35MM extension in 2016 after leading the Cavs to their first NBA title. Firing Lue would mean swallowing a lot of money for owner Dan Gilbert, who is already committed to a massive team salary and large luxury tax payments each year. Lue has a 105-63 record since taking over for David Blatt midway through the 2015/16 season.
There’s more news out of Cleveland:
- The Cavaliers have been at the center of several trade rumors, but Lue doesn’t believe a deal is necessary, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. DeAndre Jordan, Lou Williams and George Hill are among the names that have recently been connected to Cleveland. “I like the group that we have,” Lue said before today’s game. “We just haven’t been healthy the whole year, have had to do some different things, but I’m just focused on coaching the guys that we have. I like our group, any further questions with that you’ll have to talk with [GM] Koby [Altman]. Sorry.”
- Kevin Love‘s usage percentage has dropped significantly since Isaiah Thomas returned from a hip injury, raising the question of whether they can be effective in the same lineup, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “Whoever has it going or whoever is open should get the basketball, so it’s really not an option thing,” Lue said. “Kevin’s been great all year and we got to continue to get him touches and continue to feature him, no matter who’s on the floor.”
- The Cavs are reluctant to part with the unprotected Brooklyn pick, and ESPN’s Kevin Pelton doesn’t see anyone on the market worth trading it for. Cleveland got the selection from Boston in the Kyrie Irving deal and would like to keep it as insurance in case James leaves again in free agency. The pick is almost guaranteed to land in the lottery as the Nets are tied for seventh in our current Reverse Standings.