Here's a crazy one: LeBron James' camp wanted former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson to replace David Blatt, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, who characterized Tyronn Lue becoming head coach as a "compromise choice."
Jackson signed with Klutch Sports in July 2014, the same month that James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and this is not the first time his name has been mentioned in connection with the Cavs. According to Yahoo Sports, though, Klutch Sports, which is run by James' agent Rich Paul, has been undermining Blatt since before his first training camp started.
They reportedly tried to get Jackson to Cleveland, but the front office resisted. They reportedly tried to lure Lue to Klutch Sports, but he resisted. Obviously, none of this was good for Blatt's standing with the players. From Yahoo Sports:
To become the preferred candidate of the most powerful player in the NBA – and de facto Cavaliers general manager – Jackson understood what he needed to do: Bring on James' and Paul's Klutch Sports agency as his representation, and prepare to deliver those commission fees into the King's coffers. Blatt never had a chance. He never knew what hit him.
Once James' camp realized that Jackson would never be considered as coach – nor would Lue leave his representation to join Klutch Sports agency, despite overtures – Lue became a compromise choice for James' group, sources said. They started pushing for Lue to replace Blatt last season, and grew louder in those calls in recent days and weeks.
Gilbert made Lue the league's highest-paid assistant coach at $2 million-plus a year, forever considering him the head-coach-in-waiting should Blatt need to go. Ultimately, Blatt had little staying power with the Cavaliers, because James had turned Blatt's removal into an inevitability. As the games wore on, opposing players on the floor weren't only watching James constantly wave off plays from the coach – but role players feeling emboldened to disregard the head coach's instructions, too.
James had the Cavaliers existing in open rebellion for more than a season now, with no Pat Riley in the organizational shadows to scare everyone into compliance.
This is all especially interesting given what was reported about Blatt making exceptions for his star players instead of coaching them like everybody else. According to Yahoo Sports, James did not particularly want Blatt to really coach him. What is the right way to handle an "open rebellion?"
James is the special sort of player who terrifies opposing coaches and makes them alter what they normally do. He's also the special sort of player who changes how his own coaches have to approach their jobs, if only because of the scrutiny and high expectations. Beyond that, though, it is becoming clearer and clearer that a lot of behind-the-scenes games come with coaching James. Maybe Blatt was simply the wrong man for that job; maybe the deck was stacked against him from the beginning. We'll see how Lue does.