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Cleveland Cavaliers search for answers after blowout loss to Oklahoma City Thunder

From NBA media reports

* Recap: Thunder 148, Cavaliers 124

“Of course, it’s still January.”

That reassurance, invoked to the point of mantra by the Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans lately, might not be cutting it any longer. After getting kicked hard by Oklahoma City Saturday afternoon – giving up 148 points in yet another blowout defeat – the Cavs realize that shrugging and clutching the calendar isn’t going to miraculously restore the edge they need for the postseason.

The rumbles across The Land have begun over coach Tyronn Lue’s job security, so Jason Lloyd of The Athletic addresses those head-on. Remember, it was January 2016 when Lue got promoted into the job, with David Blatt taking the hit for Cleveland’s dysfunction then. Well, this dysfunction is worse.

There are 84 days left until the NBA playoffs begin, 84 days to piece Humpty Dumpty back together again. Time is on their side, but let’s be clear: The Cavs are broken. It’s evident by now this isn’t a typical January funk. This isn’t a midseason malaise. This is a fractured team with veterans unsure of what happens next because they’ve never experienced anything like it before.

[…]

But [LeBron] James isn’t even angry anymore. He didn’t go on a tirade after the Cavs matched the franchise record for points allowed in a regulation game Saturday. He didn’t put the organization on notice or demand a trade to fix the roster. Instead he left the locker room in a fairly good mood, but stunned and dazed like everyone else. What he doesn’t want, he said, is for Tyronn Lue to be fired.

“I would hope not, but I really don’t know,” James said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with our team. I have no idea what conversations have been going on. … I can’t worry about job securities and trades and things of that nature. I just stay as focused as I can every night to go out and compete and try to help us win ballgames.”

[…]

Firing the coach isn’t the answer, starting with the simple fact that there is no logical candidate to replace Lue. Larry Drew would likely follow Lue out the door, as would Mike Longabardi. Jim Boylan has twice previously served as an interim head coach, but no one seems to think he’d be a good fit in that role here. Those are the three assistants on the front of the bench.

No one on the back of the bench — James Posey, Phil Handy and Damon Jones — has the necessary experience to handle this job. Going outside the organization doesn’t make sense, either. How can you pluck an assistant coach off the street and drop him into a job surrounded by assistant coaches he doesn’t know? Or worse, have him bring in new coaches and try to implement a new system with less than half a season remaining?

Lloyd goes on to give Lue credit for holding the Cavs together through this vulnerable time, even though he and the rest of the NBA understand that slippage in the standings and repeated drillings commonly are “accompanied with a scapegoat.”

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