Could Cavs coach Blatt influence LeBron?

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — It seems all anyone wants to know is if David Blatt will impact LeBron James’ next big decision.

Blatt, of course, is the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. James, of course, used to play for them. Now, James is a free agent — making his intentions known to the Miami Heat following four straight appearances in the NBA Finals.

Would James be willing to play for Blatt? Will Blatt be able to sway James when the Cavs make what is certain to be a recruiting pitch in July? And did the Cavs make Tyronn Lue the highest-paid assistant in league history (according to a report from Yahoo Sports insider and FOX Sports 1 analyst Adrian Wojarnowski) because Lue and James are tight?

The answer to all of those questions is seemingly "probably not." But maybe.

When asked about James in a one-on-one chat after Wednesday’s press conference, Blatt only smiled and wisely stated he cannot talk about free agency yet. But he did admit, like the rest of the basketball-loving world, he has been "following the story closely."

It should be noted the Cavs are not planning on a LeBron return in 2014, sources said Wednesday. But they will put on a full-court press to get him.

It’s just that they are pinning their hopes, for now, on other things. If LeBron wants to come back and lead those hopes, well, then great.

Still, right now the new Cavs start with their new coach. Pretty soon, it will include their new No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, too. Or perhaps the players they land in a trade involving that No. 1 pick.

All we really know is Blatt is the coach, and the Cavs are doggone happy to have him.

Cavs general manager David Griffin indicated as much Wednesday, when he told the assembled media Blatt "is a man who builds deep, meaningful relationships with players."

Players who have played for and spoken to Blatt all seem to agree.

He is clearly well-liked and highly respected for all the things he’s accomplished overseas, including his run as coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv from 2010-14. So there is hardly reason to believe that LeBron (or any other player) will be unimpressed with Blatt.

And forget LeBron for a minute — because as it stands, this team is about Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, the other guys who are Cavs, and that No. 1 pick. And Blatt.



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"I’m gonna be tough with them, I’m gonna be fair with them, but I’m going to treat them like human beings, like I’d want to be treated," Blatt said.

He added he’s already had a lot of "wonderful conversations" with some of the players and they clearly "want to be coached."

Blatt is so well-liked, in fact, a couple of his former players even made their way to his press conference. Let’s be honest, not even Phil Jackson gets that kind of love.

Anyway, back to LeBron.

Several sources close to him say a return to the Heat is truly up in the air — that he’d have no problem whatsoever leaving Miami. James loves the love that comes with joining a new team, and a new world of adoring fans (not to mention people who buy gear), just as any of us would. He also knows he’ll never again feel the wrath he did when he left Cleveland in 2010, or at least not to that extent.

What’s that all mean for the Cavs? Well, not much.

It means they are going about their business. It means they are formulating their plan to build a contender with the tools in front of them (a young roster and other related assets), with the money owner Dan Gilbert is so very willing to spend, with the hope that a new approach and new voice will be the thing that brings it all together.

For right now, that hope is not LeBron James. It’s David Blatt.