Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt has been fired and will be replaced by his top assistant, Tyronn Lue.
Blatt guided the Cavs to the NBA Finals last year last year where they lost to the Golden State Warriors, and they currently boast the best record in the Eastern Conference (30-11).
However, general manager David Griffin cited “a lack of fit with our personnel and our vision” as the reason for parting ways with Blatt.
“Sometimes you can win games in this league in the regular season and get worse,” said Griffin. “I think we were regressing over time.”
He added: “What I see is that we need to build a collective spirit, a strength of spirit, a collective will. Elite teams always have that, and you see it everywhere. To be truly elite, we have to buy into a set of values and principles that we believe in. That becomes our identity.”
The Cavs GM continued: “We are a team that struggles more than any good team I’ve been with — and this is my 24th year in the N.B.A. — with prosperity. I’ve never seen a locker room not be as connected after wins as they need to be.”
In a statement released on Friday, Blatt, who joined the Cavs in June 2014, expressed the pride with what he had achieved with the franchise.
“I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as the Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers,” the statement read.
“I’d like to thank (owner) Dan Gilbert and David Griffin for giving me this opportunity and am honored to have worked with an amazing group of players from LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love through our entire roster.
“I’d also like to express my extreme gratitude to my coaching staff. I am indebted to them for their professionalism, hard work, loyalty and friendship. I am proud of what we have accomplished since I have been the Head Coach and wish the Cavaliers nothing but the best this season and beyond.”
Blatt leaves Cleveland with an 83-40 overall record.
Griffin confirmed that Lue would takeover the role of head coach on a permanent basis, and not an interim one. It has been reported that he has signed a three-year deal.
Griffin said of Lue: “I am more than confident that he has the pulse of our team and that he can generate the buy-in required to start to refine the habits and culture that we’ve yet to build.”