3 reasons David Blatt failed as coach of the Cavaliers

Blatt's failure to establish a relationship with LeBron is the main reason he's gone.

USA Today Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the NBA world on Friday by firing head coach David Blatt and replacing him with Tyronn Lue, a former player and the man who was second in command under Blatt as the team's associate head coach. 

The timing of the decision is perhaps the most curious thing about it. Cleveland had won two straight since suffering a crushing 34-point home loss to the defending champion Warriors, and had won nine of 10 before that, with the one loss coming on the road to the San Antonio Spurs.

But at the halfway point of the season, with a record of 30-11 which is the best in the Eastern Conference, the organization felt a change needed to be made. Here are the three biggest reasons that Blatt failed in his season and a half as Cleveland's head coach. 

The Cavaliers are 0-4 this season against real contenders.

Every season with LeBron James on the roster that doesn't end in winning a title is viewed as a massive disappointment. Cleveland already experienced one of those under Blatt, and despite the stellar overall record this year, the Cavaliers had yet to beat any of the best teams they faced.

The Bulls are in second place in the East, and are the team most likely to challenge the Cavaliers for supremacy in the conference. Cleveland lost to them on opening night. The Spurs are flying under the radar as usual, but are a ridiculous 37-6 on the season -- only two games back of the Warriors. Cleveland lost a close one to them on Jan. 14. And of course, we know about the two losses to the Warriors. The problem with the last one is that everything was seemingly in Cleveland's favor heading in, so there really are no legitimate excuses for the humiliating 34-point loss.

All of that could have meant that the players and those in the front office had lost confidence in Blatt's ability to push the right buttons against the other elite teams. And that's simply not something that can be allowed to continue when it's championship or bust.

Blatt never found a way to make the Kevin Love piece fit.

Once LeBron James announced his decision to join the Cavaliers as a free agent, the franchise traded a No. 1 overall pick in Andrew Wiggins for Love because they needed to add talent to the roster that was immediately capable of producing at an All-Star level. It hasn't happened yet, and Love honestly looks more lost this year than he did when trying to fit in last season.

Whether it was coming up with plays to get him more offensive touches or designing defensive schemes to help cover up Love's weaknesses, Blatt didn't do either of those things to help Love feel more comfortable in the Cavaliers system. 

Trading Love during the season is not an option, for a variety of reasons. The Cavaliers have only a few months to figure out the best way to use his talents before the playoffs begin, and they obviously believed a season-and-a-half was enough of a sample size to prove that Blatt was not the man for that job. 

Blatt was never able to successfully navigate his relationship with LeBron James.

Despite the reports trickling out that the decision to fire Blatt was done by Cavaliers GM David Griffin all by himself, we all know that if LeBron wanted Blatt to stay, he'd still be the team's head coach. 

Blatt entered the NBA after years of success in coaching professionally overseas, and immediately rubbed James the wrong way by not showing the game's best player the proper respect. The NBA is built around its star players, and Blatt failed to realize just how much power James wielded, both in the locker room with his teammates and within the organization's front office.

James let everyone know publicly that he was pulling the strings more than once, including during the playoffs when he told reporters he overruled Blatt's final play call before hitting a clutch shot to beat the Bulls in Game 4 of their second-round matchup. 

Because of how delicate the relationship with LeBron was, it's been reported that Blatt had stopped criticizing him this season, which lost him the respect of the other players on the roster. This was perhaps his biggest misstep, and the one that ultimately resulted in his being let go midway through his second NBA season.

Download the new FOX Sports App to get the latest news and scores from your NBA team.