With Blatt gone NBA left to ponder all-star coaching situation

Dwane Casey is the Toronto Raptors' all-time winningest coach. (Nathan Denette/CP)

TORONTO — Without doing anything, Raptors coach Dwane Casey found himself trending on Twitter in Toronto on Friday afternoon.

The social media attention came after reports that the Eastern-leading Cleveland Cavaliers had axed coach David Blatt. The Cavs confirmed the firing later, installing associate head coach Tyronn Lue as his replacement.

The move further muddled the league’s all-star coaching situation.

The coaches whose teams have the best record in each conference following play Jan. 31 will earn the all-star coaching gig for the Feb. 14 game in Toronto. Coaches aren’t allowed to serve as all-star coaches in consecutive years, a rule that dates to Pat Riley’s 1980s dynasty with the Lakers.

The Raptors went into Friday night's game against Miami second in the Eastern standings, leading some to wonder whether Casey might coach the East in Blatt's absence.

With the all-star game at the Air Canada Centre, there are plenty of Raptors fans watching the situation.

There are also questions in the West. League rules rule out Steve Kerr repeating as all-star coach but the Golden State Warriors head coach has been sidelined by a back injury this season, with assistant Luke Walton running the team.

Gregg Popovich, whose San Antonio Spurs are second in the West, is another option.

A Raptors spokesman said the league was examining the situation in both conferences. A league official said later Lue would be eligible to coach in the all-star game.

Casey said he has not even thought about the all-star coaching situation.

"That's the least of my concerns," he said.

He did express sympathy for Blatt, cut loose despite leading the Cavs to a 30-11 record.

"I get upset when they fire college coaches, because our profession is so tough," Casey said prior to Friday's game.

"I don't know exactly what's going on in Cleveland, (it's) none of my business."

Casey has known Blatt for a long time. When he was fired by Minnesota in 2007, he spent a week in Istanbul where Blatt was coaching Turkish club side Efes Pilsen.

"I watched his practice, learned from him, tried to steal from him," said Casey. "Then unfortunately he comes into our conference. So he's a friend, I don't know what's going on but you always hate to see a fellow coach, whether it's a professional coach or college coach, lose his job."

During his one and a half seasons as Cleveland head coach, Blatt compiled a regular-season record of 83-40 and went 14-6 in the playoffs.

Cleveland GM David Griffin said he was confident Lue "will have the pulse of our team and the buy-in required to enhance the habits and culture that will foster the kind of identity and results we must have."