CLEVELAND - A person familiar with the decision says the Cavaliers have fired coach David Blatt, who led the team to the NBA Finals last season.
Blatt was dismissed Friday, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team has not yet announced the move. Blatt's top assistant, Tyronn Lue, will to take over as coach, the person said.
"I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as the Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers," Blatt said in a statement released by his agent, Priority Sports.
"I'd like to thank Dan Gilbert and David Griffin for giving me this opportunity and am honored to have worked with an amazing group of players from LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love through our entire roster," he said.
Blatt ended his statement with a goodbye and good luck to his former Cleveland team by telling them "I'd also like to express my extreme gratitude to my coaching staff. I am indebted to them for their professionalism, hard work, loyalty and friendship. I am proud of what we have accomplished since I have been Head Coach and wish the Cavaliers nothing but the best this season and beyond."
The Cavaliers (30-11) host the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.
Blatt's firing came one day after the coach was defensive following the team's win over the Los Angeles
Clippers. Blatt was bothered by criticism his team led by LeBron James received after a 34-point loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors earlier this week.
Blatt's second season was going better than his first year, when he struggled to adapt to the NBA game after being a successful coach in Europe. But despite injuries and a team learning to mesh with stars James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, the Cavs still made it to the finals before losing to the Warriors in six games.
Following Thursday night's win over the Clippers, Blatt shared a moment with James at his locker. The pair shook hands and smiled at each other, without any hint that a coaching change could be forthcoming.
Moments earlier, Blatt was defensive about comments made about his team in the wake of the blowout loss to Golden State. He argued that his team deserved more credit than it was getting and said he was doing so because "it's about my guys."