So who is Lou Amundson? He's pretty much an afterthought, a utility player who had his best run with the Phoenix Suns when they were competing in the conference finals with Steve Nash. He also has played for 10 NBA teams and had some insight on what went on with the Cleveland Cavaliers after the firing of coach David Blatt.
In comments to the New York Post's Marc Berman, Amundson said he preferred being with the five-win Knicks at the time rather than the Cavs who eventually would make a run to the NBA Finals.
“It’s hard for a rookie coach to come in and be in a situation like that where one guy (LeBron James) is such a big influence on a whole organization,’’ Amundson said. “That’s a tough position to be in. However, you need in that situation to be assertive and make sure your players know you’re going to hold them accountable, every one of them, and they’re going to respect you. In the NBA, coaching is more managing than coaching.
“It’s important to just be assertive and not let that happen. Hold everybody accountable, otherwise you lose respect and attention of your guys.’’
Amundson usually has good insight, but he's not often heard from because of his role. He's an emergency big body who comes at a relatively inexpensive price.
A coach calling out a star player, the way Randy Wittman has occasionally done with John Wall in his sixth season, can be risky but is required and if that player has the right attitude he'll respond. Rick Carlisle and Stan Van Gundy took issue with Blatt's firing but both have a long history of doing that, too.
Blatt apparently was reluctant to do this in Cleveland and it created a ripple effect among the other players in the locker room.
“It didn’t feel like it should feel,’’ Amundson told The Post. “A team with championship aspirations, that’s not how it was supposed to feel."
That's when a coach has actually lost the locker room, or in Blatt's case maybe he never had it to begin with. A team can win like the Cavs and that can still be the case, and if the coach doesn't have a good relationship with the best player that's all it takes.