INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – The drama kings of the NBA are at it once again and Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue is none too pleased.
Lue has had enough of the drama surrounding the defending NBA champions.
With his team slumping having lost 6 of their last 8, Lue has grown weary of having to answer questions about yet another controversy – this time, LeBron James’ critical remarks earlier this week about their “top heavy” roster and the need to add another playmaker to the fold.
“I gotta come and deal with you guys every time it happens,” Lue lamented following Thursday’s practice.
Following Monday night’s loss in New Orleans James questioned whether or not the organization was satisfied with just 1 title.
ESPN reported Thursday that James is upset that general manager David Griffin and the Cavs have not spent money on the back end of the roster, which currently sits at 14 players, 1 shy of the league maximum allowed, opting for young players over seasoned veterans.
It should be noted that over the last 3 years since James’ return, the Cavs have spent more money than any other NBA team and paid $61 million in luxury taxes for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Cleveland is on track to pay another $28 million is luxury taxes this season.
Griffin was able to compensate for the loss of shooting guard J.R. Smith by acquiring Kyle Korver from Atlanta but James remains concerned that they’ve not effectively addressed the backup pint guard situation caused by the Mo Williams retire, non-retire situation early in training camp.
Forward Tristan Thompson tried not to add fuel to the fire lit by James that prompted another closed-door meeting with general manager David Griffin when asked Thursday about the latest brush fire.
“No team is perfect,” Thompson said. “Every team wants or needs something. You go to Golden State, they said they didn’t have the post players to protect the rim. The Raptors, they say after Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, what else they got?
“With us, [LeBron] wants another playmaker. It is what it is. Every team needs something. That’s for the front office. We only can control what we’ve got [and] guys got to get better.”
Cleveland has lost 3 straight, including a 116-112 home loss to the Sacramento Kings in overtime Wednesday night that saw them miss 17 free throws and blow a 10-point fourth quarter lead. Saturday night they lost in overtime to San Antonio which saw Kyrie Irving and Thompson forget a play called during a timeout.
“Just a lot of distractions,” Lue said. “We gotta focus on basketball, getting back to winning. We’re the third-best team in the NBA right now. We’re a great team, we’re the champs, so we just got to get back to playing championship basketball. That’s it.”
Following the loss to the Kings, the Cavs are 30-14, the fourth-best record in the NBA.
Since James’ return, the Cavs have struggled handling prosperity and thrived with their backs against the wall and this latest round of drama could be James’ way of stoking the fire once again to fuel another title run.
In James’ first season back Cleveland the Cavs started 19-20 and questions about the chemistry between him, Irving and Kevin Love were everywhere, but they finished the season by winning 34 of their final 43 games to go 53-29 in the regular season. Despite losing Love in the first round of the playoffs and then Irving in the NBA Finals, they had a 2-1 lead on Golden State before falling in 6 games.
Last season David Blatt was fired as head coach with the team 30-11 in late January and James sent a bunch of cryptic tweets and even unfollowed the team on social media in March before having separate meetings with Griffin and Lue to smooth things over.
As they say, the rest is history.
James led the Cavs to their first championship in team history as they became the first in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the Finals to dethrone the Warriors, ending Cleveland’s 52-year title drought.
Lue is confident they’ll get it together once again.
“When you’re not playing well, you’re going to have miscues, you’re going to have things that go against you. We understand that,” Lue said. “We’re doing better and we’re going to keep getting better to start winning games. We’re confident we can do that and we will do that.”