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Jim Ingraham

Commentary: A new coach not enough to fix Cavaliers

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    The Cavaliers are once again looking for a coach and general manager Koby Altman will try to get right a process the team has so often gotten wrong over the years.

    AP

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So the Cavs (yawn) are looking for a new coach.

Again.

It’s what they do.

They’ve had five coaches over the last seven years, a track record for picking the wrong ones that seems to fly in the face of the team’s resume over that same period of time. Namely, four consecutive trips to The Finals and one NBA championship.

How can a team be so bad at picking coaches, but so good at winning games?

Easy.

All you’ve got to do is have the greatest player in history be born within a 40-mile radius of the franchise.

It’s so simple, it’s amazing that more teams haven’t tried that same strategy.

Because once you get the greatest player in history on your team, it almost doesn’t matter who the coach is.

But enough about David Blatt.

During their 49 seasons in the NBA, the Cavs have had 22 coaches, which means, on average, they change coaches roughly every other year.

That’s if you include Bob Kloppenburg, and why wouldn’t you?

Kloppenburg coached the Cavs during the most coach-filled season in their history. That was the 1981-82 cam-PAIN, in which the Cavs careened to a record of 15-67. During that season the Cavs had four coaches, which means they changed coaches roughly every six weeks, until they eventually ran out of coaches, or ran out of weeks.

The four coaches, with their record during their (on average) six weeks on the job were Don Delaney (4-11), Bob Kloppenburg (0-3), Chuck Daly (9-32) and Bill Musselman (2-21).

Hall of Famer Chuck Daly?

Yep.

What’s he doing in there?

Don’t ask.

During the Kloppenburg Era, the Cavs’ coaching situation was exceedingly fluid. Starting with the 1978-79 season, the Cavs had nine coaches in eight years: Bill Fitch, Stan Albeck, Delaney, Musselman, Kloppenburg, Daly, Tom Nissalke, George Karl, and Gene Littles.

But then the light switch went on and in the 13 seasons after that the Cavs had just two coaches: Lenny Wilkens and Mike Fratello.

Then came the Randy Wittman, John Lucas, Keith Smart interlude.

Then the greatest player in history showed up, and a bunch of other guys have coached the Cavs since then. But with the greatest player in history on the roster, we all know who — nudge-nudge — REALLY coached the Cavs.

So what can we learn from the Cavs’ history of hiring and firing and sometimes rehiring and sometimes refiring head coaches through their nearly half-century of being the Cavs?

Only this: their best coach was never, technically speaking, the coach — if you get my drift.

The Cavs’ best “coach” is now with the Lakers, and the Lakers are in a bigger mess with him than they were before he got there.

Think about that, and then think about this: It was only three years ago the Cavs were world champions. How many players who were on that team are still on the team today?

Two.

Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. You could technically include Matthew Dellavedova, but he left after the championship season, and then got traded back to the Cavs.

But all the rest of those championship Cavs are gone. J.R. Smith is still being paid by the Cavs, but he’s being paid to stay away from the Cavs, so he doesn’t count.

In other words, in less than three years, that championship Cavs team is all but gone. And everyone’s the worse for it.

Kyrie Irving pouted his way out of Cleveland, somehow got the Cavs to trade him to an excellent Boston team, where, since Irving’s arrival, the Celtics have regressed to the point this season that Boston had a better record when Irving didn’t play than when he did.

LeBron James left as a free agent for the Lakers, where instead of turning them into a playoff team with championship aspirations, the result has been a chaotic organization with world class dysfunction that was on display last week when team president Magic Johnson quit without telling anyone.

LeBron suffered the first major injury of his career, and the younger Lakers, virtually all of whom saw their names surface in the Anthony Davis trade rumors, grew more selfish than ever, to the point LeBron at times refused to sit by his teammates during timeouts.

Meanwhile, what’s left in Cleveland with LeBron and Irving gone is a bad expansion team whose best hope might be for the future second-best player in history to again be born within a 40-mile radius of the franchise — the sooner, the better.

The greatness of what that 2015-16 championship Cavs team did in The Finals will live forever. But the charred ruins of what’s left of that roster is not easy on the eyes.

None of the Big Three are in a better place now than they were then. Not LeBron. Not Kyrie. Not the Cavs.

Contact Jim Ingraham at (440) 329-7135 or jingraham4@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jim_Ingraham.


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