CLEVELAND – The Cavaliers will continue to rebuild with a new coach. Larry Drew’s run is over after one season.
The team parted ways Thursday with Drew, who took over as the Cavs coach in October and led the club to 19 wins amid a swarm of injuries in Cleveland’s first season since LeBron James left as a free agent.
The Cavs tied for the NBA’s second-worst record, but Drew earned praise for keeping his team competitive despite a young roster and only having All-Star forward Kevin Love for 22 games because of injuries.
“We have great respect and appreciation for Larry and the job that he did as the head coach of the Cavaliers for nearly the entire 2018-19 campaign. He brought professionalism, class and steady leadership both this past season and prior four years,” general manager Koby Altman said in a release. “Larry and I had a productive discussion about this past season, the future of the franchise and the search process that we will shortly launch regarding the head coaching role.
“Larry respectfully declined to participate in the search process and will not be returning to coach the Cavaliers. All of us in Cleveland wish Larry nothing but the best going forward.”
Drew took over when Tyronn Lue was fired Oct. 28 following a 0-6 start. The 61-year-old Drew had been with the Cavs since 2016, when he was brought to Cleveland by Lue. The team won the NBA title in Drew’s first season on Lue’s staff.
When he replaced Lue, Drew knew the Cavs might go in another direction at some point and asked the team to restructure his contract.
“I want to thank (owner) Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, the entire organization, and especially our fans, for what has been a very special and rewarding time here in Cleveland,” Drew said. “Koby and I had a good discussion following the season and have both decided that the best decision for each of us was that I would not return to coach the team. I am very proud of what we accomplished over the last several years together and will always cherish our Championship.
“I also want to commend our players this season for the bond that they established, the way they approached their jobs and the hard work and growth they had every day. I am very proud of them and wish them the best as they continue to develop for the future.”