When LeBron leaves town something bad is going to happen. History says so. When LeBron left Cleveland in 2010 all the Cavaliers did was win 19 games. When LeBron left Miami in 2014, Chris Bosh began getting blood clots in his leg and it ended his career. LeBron left Cleveland this past summer and they are a mess. Kevin Love is injured again. They won’t play J.R. Smith and they fired Ty Lue. Next man up on the coaching string is Larry Drew. Except Larry Drew says, “I’m not the interim coach.”
Umm….so what is he exactly?
Larry Drew wants what Ty Lue got when David Blatt was fired. He wants a contract as the new head coach. Otherwise, he is the “voice” of the team. The front office is calling him “acting” head coach. For now Drew and the front office are at a stalemate, a staring contest. Dan Gilbert doesn’t want to pay Drew a head coach’s salary. Drew is already making $1 mil as an assistant and he probably wants double to take on this Cavs sinking ship. All you have to know about the Cavs besides having lost James twice is that they are paying Kevin Love $120 million with no opt-outs, and to kick off that mega deal, Love is shooting 32% and 29% from three and is currently in street clothes. So, of course Drew wants to rob the Gilbert bank.
But Dan G. isn’t having any of the Drew robbing him blind the way Mike Brown, David Blatt and Ty Lue are. Gilbert is still on the hook for THREE of his former hires/fires and the idea of adding Larry Drew to the list makes his stomach turn and so you have this game of chicken.
Gilbert is a billionaire but he gets to spend his money the way he wants. The bottom line is not that he is paying all his fired coaches and in Mike Brown’s case, watching while he beats the Cavs in the Finals, it is that Gilbert doesn’t think Drew is worth it. Otherwise, he’d write a check. Rich men don’t mind gambles. Drew isn’t a gamble. Drew is a placeholder. His contract is up in July.
Drew has been burned before. He used to coach the Bucks and was considered stable, as much as coaches can be thought of as stable. Then Jason Kidd set his sights on the Bucks as a Plan B once his palace coup of the Nets front office failed. He had friends in the new Bucks ownership group. They caved to Kidd, gave him the Bucks coaching job despite having a coach, Larry Drew. Faster than you can say bye Drew was out and Kidd was in.
Larry Drew is trying to protect himself because he knows the probability of being kicked to the curb is very high and he wants compensation. Plus it’s the Cavs. They are awful. Coaching this team to 20 wins would make him a miracle worker and since Larry Drew’s coaching history is slim, just 313 games, he is cautious.
He has been the head coach twice. The Hawks and aforementioned Bucks. 114 wins. 169 losses. All three of his seasons with the Hawks he had a winning regular season record. With the Bucks he won 15 games which is probably more than the Cavs will win. So why not get paid for this horror show. He’s going to own back to back head coaching records of less than 20 wins. There has to be some silver lining.
One thing most people don’t know about Larry Drew. Call it his personal NBA trivia. Only three teams in NBA 82 game season history have never won consecutive games. Larry Drew was part of all three of them. One as a player, (1986-87) Clippers. One as an assistant coach (2004-05) Hawks. One as the Bucks coach during their 15 win season. Drew has been on the bad side of these can’t win teams.
So in that sense he is perfect for the Cavs. But unless Dan G. believes in Drew a little bit more, he’ll continue as “acting” head coach and the Cavs will continue as “permanent” dysfunctional organization.