AUBURN HILLS, MICH.: Eastern Conference coaches spent the last week seemingly doing two things: voting on All-Star reserves and hammering the Cavaliers for firing their first-place coach.
Perhaps the two are related. It serves as at least one theory for why LeBron James is the Cavs’ lone player representative after the first-place team sent four players to last year’s All-Star Game.
“In this league it’s always been about winning and winning has always been rewarded,” said Tyronn Lue, who will coach the East team next month in Toronto. “I’ve just never seen being a first-place team and getting one guy in. I’ve never seen that before.”
Kevin Love was left off the coaches’ list of reserves despite being one of four players in the East averaging a double-double. Three of them, incidentally, were left off the team. Only Pistons center Andre Drummond, whom the Cavs faced Friday night, made the cut.
Love was a three-time All-Star in Minnesota, yet he hasn’t made it in either of his first two seasons in Cleveland. He is averaging 15.7 points and 10.8 rebounds, although he’s shooting under 42 percent — a career low in a season when he was healthy.
“I think there’s a lot of good players in the East,” Love said. “I’ve said that all along, especially at the forward position.”
A number of opposing coaches have taken shots at the Cavs over the course of the last week for David Blatt’s firing. Two of the more outspoken ones, the Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy and the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, are the Cavs’ next two opponents.
Popovich joked after the Spurs were hammered by the Warriors that he could be in danger of being fired if his general manager was in the locker room more, a direct shot at Cavs General Manager David Griffin, while Van Gundy called the firing embarrassing.
“That one, to me, elevated all of the coach firings totally into the theater of the absurd,” Van Gundy said when Blatt was fired. “It was insane.”
Van Gundy said Friday he was surprised Love didn’t make it, but he was pleased all eight teams with winning records will have a representative at the game.
“The only guys whose teams are under .500 that are in are Carmelo [Anthony] and John Wall and they are close,” Van Gundy said. “I think for the East All-Star team we did a pretty good job of rewarding winning, but Kevin probably did belong there, yes.”
Whether or not opposing coaches let Blatt’s firing influence their voting will never be known. LeBron James, however, insisted he hasn’t heard many of the comments from around the league.
“I haven’t seen any of the coaches speak out on it, so I really haven’t noticed it much,” he said. “But we got to earn our respect. As a team and as a franchise we’ve got to continue to earn our respect. It’s just another notion of that.”
Van Gundy on Griffin
Van Gundy, who also serves as the Pistons’ team president, said Griffin is now on the hot seat after firing Blatt.
“Ty is going to do a good job, a really good job,” he said. “To me it is not on him, it is on David Griffin. If you go to the NBA Finals it was a neutral move, if you win it all, it was a good move, but if you don't get to the Finals it was a bad move. It's on David Griffin ... I don't think there is any other way to paint it. If you don't go back to the Finals it wasn't a good move.”
Way back when
Lue concluded his playing career under Van Gundy when he was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Orlando Magic in 2009. He served as a backup point guard who played sparingly on the Orlando Magic team that upset the Cavs and advanced to the NBA Finals, then he retired after the season.
“I only had him for part of one year, but there was never any doubt that he was going to coach,” Van Gundy said. “He had that kind of demeanor, that kind of presence and knowledge of the game. I am not surprised [by] him being a head coach and given an opportunity. Surprised that the timing based on the record, but not surprised that he is getting an opportunity.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ.