The Cleveland Cavaliers have expanded their head coach search to include a meeting on Wednesday with legendary European coach David Blatt. The former Princeton University point guard and Massachusetts born Blatt is fresh off a championship with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Euroleague a month ago. After playing professionally in Israel for 12 years and coaching in Israel and Europe for another 20, Blatt stepped down from his Tel Aviv position last week and stated he wanted to follow his dream to coach in the NBA.
The Cavs reportedly have current Los Angeles Clippers assistants Alvin Gentry and Tyronn Lue on their radar screen as potential head coach hires. Both the Clippers assistants underwent a second interview with the club on Friday. The Cavs also spoke with former guard Mark Price and reports indicate they offered Kentucky Wildcats Coach John Calipari a monster 10 year contract approaching $80 million to take the leap back into the NBA. As the coaching search continues, the Cleveland Cavaliers are now thinking outside the box to initiate a meeting with Euro legend David Blatt.
Blatt is known as a great offensive coach and game tactician. Most observers note that his Tel Aviv Euroleague championship team did not have talent across the board as good as the CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid teams they upset in the final two games. Playing for Pete Carril at Princeton, Blatt learned the triangle offense. He also saw how to coach less talented teams to be competitive with more talent laden foes. When playing outside the Ivy League, Carril’s teams were often competitive, even when apparently outgunned. Blatt keeps his cool under fire and manages to get the most out of his players. He even coached the Russian team to a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London.
At the age of 55, Blatt feels there is no time like the present to take a stab at coaching in the NBA. By all accounts, he initially decided to pursue NBA coaching as an assistant. He could pick Carril’s brain about the intricacies of an NBA assistant’s life. Carril choose to become an NBA assistant coach as his “retirement” job for over a decade. Blatt reportedly has discussed a coaching position with new Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr as his initiation into the NBA game. Kerr has said Blatt would occupy something akin to an offensive coordinator role with the team. As Blatt was considering a potential assistant position, the Cavaliers called to express an interest in speaking with him regarding their head coaching job.
The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be intrigued with the basketball mind of David Blatt and will meet with him to determine if the European legend is a good match for their team. Owner Dan Gilbert is not afraid to take risks, although hiring a renowned head coach does not appear all that risky even if he is new to the NBA game. Blatt is ready to take the NBA plunge and left a secure job to make the leap. Cleveland fans are curious whether the Cavs’ interest becomes a head coaching offer.
Commentary by William Costolo