CLEVELAND, Ohio — It’s been a long time since Larry Drew had some real leverage in a contract situation.
So I don’t blame Drew and his agent for trying to secure a deal that makes him more than an “interim” coach.
That’s because he should be the real coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Part of the reason I favored firing Tyronn Lue during the summer was because the Cavs had Drew on their staff. He is a natural replacement for Lue, and his experience and demeanor make him the right fit for the Cavaliers after LeBron James.
My understanding is Drew was well paid as Lue’s top assistant coach. The Cavs have offered him a raise to coach the team for the rest of the season.
But the 60-year-old Drew should be given a contract through the 2019-2020 season. Guarantee him the job for this season and next year. You can add some type of team option for 2020-2021.
The Cavs obviously need Drew.
If he turns them down, no one on the staff has the experience needed for this tough job. It would be difficult to bring in someone from the outside in the middle of the season.
That’s why I favor Drew being the coach.
But to be fair to the Cavs, Drew has not been a hot name in the coaching field since he was fired by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013-14.
He was told to play young guys, don’t worry about the losses, as the Bucks were piling up ping pong balls for the lottery. He had a 15-67 record. But after the season, Drew was fired.
Jason Kidd reportedly lobbied to get the Bucks job, and it went to him.
Drew justifiably believed he got a raw deal.
The Cavs do present Drew with a chance to revive his career as a head coach.
In some ways, it’s a good situation because things were so bad before he took over.
Not only were the Cavs 0-6, they had never led in the second half of a game this season.
In Drew’s first game, the Cavs beat Atlanta, 136-114.
That was Tuesday night.
One good performance isn’t any reason to support Drew.
It’s Drew’s long term relationship with the Cavs.
He was hired in the summer of 2014 by David Blatt. The former Cavs coach had a relationship with Drew dating back to when Blatt coached in Tel Aviv. Drew visited Blatt in Israel to talk strategy and coaching.
So Drew has been with the Cavs for four years, through two different head coaches.
He brings stability and familiarity. He simply is a class act.
Taking over this team should be easier for Drew than going elsewhere — assuming another team would hire him as head coach.
WORK IT OUT
From 2010-13, Drew coached the Atlanta Hawks for three seasons. He had three winning records, three playoff appearances.
He was 9-1 when he took over for Lue in the regular season. Lue was dealing with an illness.
He is the right guy for the job.
And the Cavs are the right team for Drew.
Note to the Cavs & Drew: Work it out, you need each other.