Damon Jones

Cavaliers Fire Tyronn Lue

1:44pm: The Cavaliers have made the firing of Tyronn Lue official, confirming the news in a press release. The team also confirmed Larry Drew will take over as interim head coach.

“This was a very difficult decision. It is especially so, considering Coach Lue’s time with us over the last four years, including four straight trips to the NBA Finals,” general manager Koby Altman said. “We have respect and great admiration for Ty, not only as a coach, but a person. We thank him for the many ways he has contributed to our success, wish him the best and he will always be remembered for leading a very special Cavs team back against the odds to win the title in 2016. This is a different team equation, though, and one that we felt needed a different voice and approach that required this change.”

10:14am: After an 0-6 start, Tyronn Lue has been dismissed as head coach of the Cavaliers, tweets Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The decision was announced following a meeting this morning between Lue and GM Koby Altman (Twitter link). Assistant Larry Drew will serve as interim coach while the team looks for a replacement, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Drew will run practice today, and Altman and owner Dan Gilbert are hoping he will accept the interim job with a chance to earn a full-time head coaching position, Wojnarowski tweets. However, Drew is hoping for a longer commitment right away.

Lue compiled a 128-83 record after replacing David Blatt midway through the 2015/16 season. He led the organization to its only championship and took the Cavs back to the NBA Finals the past two seasons. Lue received a five-year, $35MM contract extension after winning the title in 2016 and is still owed about $15MM (Twitter link).

Of course, that was with LeBron James, who departed for the Lakers in free agency over the summer. Cleveland was expected to have a difficult transition with James gone, but the front office had hoped enough veteran talent was still in place to contend for the playoffs. The organization gave a four-year extension to Kevin Love over the offseason as a sign that it wasn’t ready to start rebuilding.

However, the Cavaliers got off to a miserable start, not only losing their first six games, but struggling to remain competitive. The team hasn’t held a lead after halftime all season and has trailed by at least 16 points in every game, Vardon noted in a recap of Saturday’s loss to the Pacers. The Cavs have been especially bad at home, where they have dropped three games by a combined 50 points.

Lue urged patience after the latest defeat, contending there’s more to building success than just the team’s record.

“I don’t think you define culture off of wins and losses,” he said. “I think you define culture on how the organization is a class-A organization, and with Dan Gilbert at the helm, it’s always going to be that way. I think it’s about the players you bring in. It’s about your coaching staff and who you surround the people with, so, culture is not defined by wins and losses.”

Cavaliers players are angry about the decision to replace Lue and some are reacting on social media, Vardon relays in a full story on the move. Love posted a photo of him with Lue on Instagram along with a message thanking his former coach for all his help. Lue and Altman have been clashing on the direction of the team since training camp, Vardon adds.

Altman wanted to devote more playing time to younger players such as Cedi Osman and first-round pick Collin Sexton, and after two early losses Lue and Altman told veterans J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver and Channing Frye that their minutes were being reduced. However, after being embarrassed by the Hawks in their home opener, Lue decided to put Korver and Smith back in the rotation.

The Cavs have also dismissed assistant coach Damon Jones, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cavs Rumors: LeBron, Love, Trade Talks, Coaches

While LeBron James will have until June 29 to exercise or decline his 2018/19 player option, his final decision on his next team won’t happen quickly and figures to stretch into July, Adrian Wojnarowski said on Monday during a draft special on ESPN (Twitter link via Sagar Trika). If that’s the case, James seems more likely to opt out than to opt in next week, which would have an impact on which suitors are viable destinations, as I explained here.

Meanwhile, Wojnarowski also reports that the Cavaliers would like to package Kevin Love and the No. 8 pick for a star player on draft night, but that combo may not net the kind of star they’re seeking (Twitter link via Trika). As Wojnarowski observes, Love’s value isn’t at its peak and the Brooklyn first-rounder isn’t quite as strong as Cleveland had hoped, limiting the appeal of that package to some extent.

Let’s round up a few more Cavs notes and rumors…

  • The Cavaliers have talked to the Grizzlies on more than one occasion, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoop.net, who cautions that he doesn’t know the specifics of those discussions. Memphis is reportedly open to the idea of attaching Chandler Parsons‘ contract to the No. 4 pick in a trade, so it’s possible Cleveland has checked in on that possibility.
  • Echoing a Monday report, Amico confirms that the Cavaliers are expressing interest in Hornets point guard Kemba Walker and have kicked the tires on disgruntled Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.
  • Although Amico expects the Cavs to hang onto the No. 8 pick, a lot of teams are interested in trading up to that spot, including the Nets.
  • The Cavs have had discussions about potentially acquiring another late first-round pick “to help open up the possibilities,” a league source tells Amico.
  • The Cavs are parting ways with assistant coach Jim Boylan and player development coach Phil Handy, multiple league sources tell Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. By not renewing the contracts for Boylan and Handy, the Cavs are clearing the path to give Dan Geriot and Damon Jones larger roles on their coaching staff, per ESPN’s report. No longer employed in Cleveland, Handy may be a candidate to join Nick Nurse‘s Raptors staff, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.

Coaching Notes: Lue, Jones, Walton, Kings

A delay in working out an extension with Tyronn Lue has several Cavaliers assistants working in the summer league without contracts, according to Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com. The deals for Jim Boylan, Phil Handy, James Posey and Vitaly Potapenko expired July 1st. Lue, who has promised they will all be kept on his staff, is negotiating an extension after winning an NBA title in his first season as a head coach. He is still under a four-year, $6.5MM contract that he had as an assistant after refusing a three-year, $9.5MM offer when he replaced David Blatt in midseason. Lue has a year left on his current deal and said he isn’t worried about the status of the extension. “It’ll eventually get done,” he said.

There’s more coaching news around the league:

  • The Cavaliers are expected to make Damon Jones an assistant coach, Haynes writes in the same piece. Jones will replace Bret Brielmaier, who recently joined the Nets‘ staff.
  • After a two-month wait while the Warriors made their way through the playoffs, former Golden State assistant Luke Walton finally got to coach the Lakers, writes Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Walton made his debut Friday night in the Las Vegas Summer League and received a rousing ovation from Lakers fans in attendance. “I know I still have a lot to learn, but I think everybody does, no matter how long you’ve been doing any job,” Walton said. “I’m excited and I feel like I’m ready for this and I’m looking forward to it.”
  • The Lakers did not keep player development coach Thomas Scott, tweets Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. Scott is expected to pursue other opportunities.
  • The Kings have added Bob Thornton and Larry Lewis as assistants to new head coach Dave Joerger, tweets Sean Cunningham of KXTV in Sacramento.

Central Notes: Kidd, Brown, Jones

Bucks coach Jason Kidd said the franchise’s biggest need this offseason was to acquire outside shooters who can stretch the floor for the team’s big men, writes Charles F. Gardner of The Journal Sentinel. “In today’s game, two is not going to beat three,” Kidd said. “The three is so important. We didn’t have enough guys that could make the three. There’s no tricks. I’m not going to sit here and make up something that we’re going to have to shoot a higher percentage of twos. You’ve got to be able to shoot the three. Everybody is shooting them. You’ve got to have guys on the floor who can stretch the floor and are threats to make a three.”

GM John Hammond shot down the rumblings that he and Kidd don’t have a solid working relationship, Gardner notes. “We just finished our second season together, and I think we have a very good working relationship,” Hammond said. “We talk together, we spend time together. We have a business relationship; we have a social relationship. With what we do, the season ends but it stays busy. We jump right into the draft until the end of June, and then we begin free agency and summer league. You’re stuck together in the season and in the offseason. It’s part of what we do and we love it.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said the team inked Lorenzo Brown in order to have enough bodies to practice heading into the playoffs with Reggie Jackson needing rest to recover from an abdominal injury, tweets Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.
  • Andre Drummond is pleased with how his relationship with Jackson is developing as well as what the point guard has brought to the Pistons franchise, David Aldridge of NBA.com relays. “You know, getting Reggie last season at the trade deadline, I didn’t know what to expect,” Drummond told Aldridge. “He came off the bench for OKC. I didn’t know what he’d be like as a starter. When he came, I spoke him, told him these are the different things that I’m going to need from a point guard. He embraced it. And he’s been playing great for us. He’s building, and we’re working together.”
  • The Cavaliers have added Damon Jones to Tyronn Lue‘s coaching staff for the playoffs, relays Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group. The team believes it can benefit from Jones’ experience and rapport with players in its quest to return to the NBA finals, Haynes adds. Jones spent the season as an assistant with the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s D-League affiliate.

Central Notes: Parker, Thompson, Jones

Jabari Parker will return Wednesday for his first game since he tore his left ACL in December, as Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported (Twitter links), and as the Bucks confirm. It appeared the team was concerned he’d have to remain out until late this month, but he’s instead a go this week for Milwaukee, which has started the season a disappointing 0-3. Tyler Ennis will also make his season debut for the Bucks in that game after dealing with a shoulder injury. See more from the Central Division:

  • Tristan Thompson hinted to TNT’s David Aldridge that he was on board with sitting out all of this season if it was necessary for him to get a fair deal, as Aldridge writes within his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. The power forward finally re-signed with the Cavs on a five-year, $82MM deal late last month after lengthy negotiations. “I didn’t worry about it,” Thompson said. “Obviously I love playing the game of basketball. That’s what God blessed me to do. At the same time, playing in the NBA, it’s a business side to it. At the end of the day, myself, Rich [Paul], Mark [Termini], we handled it the way we felt best. We weren’t worried. If the deal gets done, it gets done. If not, so be it, sit out the whole season [and] work on my game, and just get better. It was no wondering if it would get done, or nervousness. If I had it to do over again, I’d do it the same way — no regrets.”
  • The Cavs have named former player and Termini client Damon Jones an assistant coach for their D-League team, notes Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor (Twitter link). Cleveland originally planned to have Jones, who served last year as a shooting consultant for both the Cavs and their D-League team, move into that full-time D-League role for last season, but he wasn’t interested, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (on Twitter).
  • The Pacers have assigned Rakeem Christmas and Shayne Whittington to their D-League affiliate, the team announced. Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star first reported the moves would take place (Twitter link). They’re the first players any NBA team has assigned to the D-League this season, and the first that Indiana has ever assigned to its new one-to-one D-League affiliate.

Odds & Ends: Joseph, West, Delany, Wiggins

Here are a few odds and ends from around the NBA on Wednesday night:

  • Kris Joseph, who was waived last month by the Celtics, is weighing international offers in Italy, Russia and France as well as a few NBA invites, tweets Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest. 
  • Haynes also tweets that free agent guard Delonte West has impressed at a coach's camp in Las Vegas.  West, who spent some time in the D-League last year, hasn't played in the NBA since his 2011/12 campaign with the Mavericks.  West has also played with the Celtics and Cavs. 
  • The Heat have named advance scout Pat Delany the head coach of their D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, tweets Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. 
  • Jonathan Tjarks of RealGM evaluates the prospects of the eight 2010 first-round picks that are currently not on NBA rosters – Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry, Luke Babbitt, Craig Brackins, Elliot Williams, Damion James, Dominique Jones and Lazar Hayward.
  • Andrew Wiggins has the potential to single-handedly turn around an NBA franchise, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld, adding that his ceiling has teams lining up to better their chances for his services. Kennedy names the Sixers, Magic, Suns, Bobcats, Kings and Jazz as the six teams who have positioned themselves for Wiggins, and Celtics and Raptors as outside possibilities. 

Washburn On Harden, Jones, Rockets

Free agent swingman Mickael Pietrus has made it clear he isn't willing to sign for the veteran's minimum, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Pietrus has expressed an interest in playing for the Celtics and taking the team's $1.95MM biannual exception, but Boston will likely hold onto it until the regular season, using it on a player who's been waived by another team. 

Here's the latest news and headlines from Washburn…

  • Magic Johnson recently voiced his opinion on the moves the Lakers made this offseason. “It was a great move for the Lakers, not just for now but for the future because now we’ll have somebody we can build the Lakers around once Kobe is gone,”Johnson said. “I think that Steve Nash was also a key trade because Steve will make everybody better like Dwight Howard will make all the players better because he’s a great defender and he can get out on that break and run the pick-and-roll well.”
  • The Thunder's decision to re-sign James Harden isn't a lock even after helping the United States win a gold medal this summer in London. Team general manager Sam Presti may be reluctant to offer him a new contract due to Harden's struggles during the NBA Finals in which he missed 16 of 20 shots in Game 3 and 4 losses to Miami. “We’ll be open in saying that there are a lot of inherent challenges this organization faces as a result of the new CBA,” Presti said. “With that said, we also maintained that we’re going to figure out a way to build a team that’s competitive within the new system and capable of competing."
  • Former Cavs guard Damon Jones has moved on from his playing days and is now looking to make a career as a coach. He helped out friend Tyronn Lue with the Celtics this summer during the team's summer league and truly enjoyed the experience. “When you play like I have for 12 years, there’s so many different things that I saw during the course of my career that I can extend to younger players,” Jones said. “The players that we have here are very receptive. It’s been fun. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
  • Rockets general manager Daryl Morey approached the summer in search of a superstar player to build his roster around but enters the fall with Jeremy Lin as his big ticket acquisition of the offseason. While Morey didn't add the franchise player he was looking to acquire, the general manager is excited about what Lin brings to his team. "We’re always looking for opportunities to upgrade our team," Morey said. "We really like that we have Jeremy [Lin] and the other young players that we have and the other young players improving over time."

Odds & Ends: Sloan, Nets, Novak, Nash

Let's check out the latest notes from around the league, as we prepare for a busy slate of games that includes a Southeast battle in Orlando, the Clippers in Philadelphia, and, of course, Kobe Bryant against Jeremy Lin….

  • Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports reports that former Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan has been approached by at least six teams trying to lure him back into coaching. Although he wasn't ready yet when those opportunites arose, he's feeling recharged and could return to the NBA next season.
  • The Nets will roll with their current roster rather than signing or waiving anyone, despite all the injuries, tweets Ben Couch of NJNets.com. The club wants to retain their Bird-rights players like Damion James in order to build around max contracts this summer, tweets Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.
  • In an Insider-only ESPN.com column, John Hollinger examines whether or not the Big Three model is all it's cracked up to be.
  • The "Linsanity" surrounding Jeremy Lin is overshadowing Steve Novak's recent success, writes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Novak, who was claimed off waivers by the Knicks in December, is eligible for unrestricted free agency at season's end.
  • Although Steve Nash doesn't appear to be going anywhere before the trade deadline, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle thinks a reunion with the Mavericks could make sense.