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Report: Cavaliers reach deal with David Blatt to be head coach

Jun 20, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

David Blatt David Blatt

A lot of casual Cavaliers fans are going to say, “who?” and just shake their heads.

A lot of people around the NBA are going to nod their heads and say “good hire.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers have reached a deal to have international coaching star and innovative offensive mind David Blatt take over as head coach, reports Mary Schmitt Boyer at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

David Blatt, who just resigned as coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv last week, has reached an agreement to become the 20th head coach of the Cavaliers, replacing Mike Brown who was fired on May 12, an NBA source told The Plain Dealer on Friday.

This will be the first NBA job for the well-respected Blatt, an American who played for Pete Carril at Princeton and has played and coached in Europe the past 33 years. He also will become the first European head coach to be picked to run an NBA team.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports add details.

It became clear this was the direction things were headed last night when Alvin Gentry agreed to take the job as Steve Kerr’s lead assistant in Golden State, the other job Blatt was considering. Blatt to Cleveland likely means Tyron Lue will stay with the Clippers and jump up a slot to lead assistant (Gentry’s old slot) next to Doc Rivers.

Blatt just led Maccabi Tel Aviv to a surprise EuroLeague title and before that coached Russia to a bronze medal at the London Olympics. However he was on the radar of NBA teams before that as a future NBA coach in large part thanks to what is seen as an innovative offense. He is an outside the box thinker.

A few may say, “this hurts the Cavaliers chances of getting LeBron James to come back this summer.” No, because that was not going to happen anyway. It’s like saying me not shaving today hurts my chance of a date with Kate Upton tonight. Besides, LeBron studies and knows the game, if he sees and offense where players share the ball, move off the ball and are unselfish he might think “I just got beat by an offense like that, I should consider it.”

The biggest challenge for Blatt is getting the players to buy in — in Europe (more like college ball) the coach has the power. There are also fewer games and more practices. The NBA it’s the elite players who have the power and the best coaches get those players to buy in. Blatt may well have that skill — and Kyrie Irving will love his offense (if he’s willing to move the ball to get it back).

Former Cav Anthony Parker, now an Orlando scout, played for Blatt in Israel and often cited him as his favorite coach, calling him one of the top basketball coaches in the world.

  1. balsagna - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    This is a homerun hire by the Cavaliers. Blatt is an innovative coach that stresses team basketball, a concept that a small market team like Cleveland should do everything they can to buy into. This guy is very respected in league circles and has had success in both Europe and the Olympics. If you don’t know anything about Blatt, then that’s on you. Take some time to research the guy. This is the best decision the franchise has made since drafting Kyrie.

    • thesixersbench - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      “…the only good decision the franchise has made since drafting Kyrie.”

      Fixed that for you..

      (couldn’t help myself, sorry)

      • balsagna - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:55 PM

        That’s fair but you can only go forward and try to make the best moves you think you can. It’s a new front office in Cleveland and this was absolutely the right move for them to make. Team basketball is the blueprint out forth for smaller market teams to succeed. This man preaches a style of basketball that bucks the heavy trend in the NBA. I applaud the Cavs for thinking outside the box.

      • thesixersbench - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:58 PM

        I agree. I can’t believe I’m saying this because of their track record, but it was an inspired decision. Might be just what was necessary to keep Kyrie in town for the long haul.

    • 00maltliquor - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      “If you don’t know anything about Blatt, then that’s on you.”

      Lol!
      Dude, I’m pretty sure before p b t started running stories on him you knew as much about him as the rest of us and it shows. You just regurgitated everything that has been said about him in this article and articles on him this past week without giving any different insight. Lol

      • balsagna - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:28 PM

        My point was that you shouldn’t allow the lack of name recognition to cloud your opinion of the hire. Truth be told I’m a Cavs fan and we have been linked to Blatt for a little over a week now. I didn’t know much about him other than he coached team Russia because we have Karasev of the Cavs. I did my research and came away thrilled with the prospect of hiring him. Nationally this hiring could be seen as a bad move, and it’s anything but.

      • 00maltliquor - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        I think it’s a good move too, especially with that young roster, they are not as corrupt or entitled as they could be as vets. I for one will be looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:38 PM

      Homerun? Well it could be. But it may not be. Who can say? It’s the Cavs and I don’t trust their decision making.

      It almost as if they think the hiring of a EuroLeague coach will turn them into San Antonio. Euroball is going to be in fashion for about a year, so you can’t really blame them.

  2. jburk003 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Why not???

    The NBA always talks and boasts about the globalization of the sport. And hey, look at the championship Spurs- they hold a roster with a handful of foreign players.

    Why not a European coach??? I think it’s a great hire

  3. jburk003 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:43 PM

    Adding on, I do realize he is American born. I call him a European coach because of the tendencies and other aspects that he has developed over 33 years of coaching in Europe

  4. pascalswager42 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    Glad they have a solid team-oriented and creative coach.

    Now what to do with the roster and the #1 pick???

    I do hope that perhaps he can better lure Euro talent to the Cavs….an added advantage to be sure.

  5. thesixersbench - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Cavaliers management…makes….a good move?

    What the hell is going on out there?? Somebody check their drinking water.

    • balsagna - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      Unlike the sixers decision to tank?

      • thesixersbench - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:56 PM

        …I’m sorry? Was that supposed to imply a point that made sense?

        If you’re new to the NBA and don’t get how it works, fair enough. But everybody who follows the league closely knows that Sixers management made the hard (and correct) decision to rebuild the right way and avoid the shortcut pitfalls so many organizations fall into.

      • balsagna - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        That’s wonderful. How did that turn out?

      • thesixersbench - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        It ended up with us getting rid of every bad contract on the roster, drafting the 2013-2014 Rookie of the Year, last year’s consensus #1 overall pick (for any organization other than Cleveland) and receiving two Top 10 picks in one of the most loaded NBA Draft’s in years.

        Do you follow NBA basketball?

      • balsagna - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        So you tanked for the #1 pick to draft Wiggins, and are now officially out of the running to draft him, but it worked out OK? Got ya. You can rationalize it any way you want but the obvious attempt at losing every possible game was a failure. I understand what you are saying, but you put down the Cavs organization as if the Sixers are something to strive towards. That’s laughable.

  6. haterhurter937 - Jun 20, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    The cavs need to do him a favor, move waiters and his bad attitude out of the locker room.

    • savvybynature - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:05 PM

      Draft Wiggins and play him as a two guard, move Waiters + any bad contracts on the roster for future picks.
      Waiters is talented, but I agree his attitude seems to suck and if they want the guys to buy into a new, team-oriented system they need buy-in from everyone.

    • pascalswager42 - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      It’s not like Kyrie’s attitude is any better….

      They both need to look in the mirror and grow the F up…

      • thesixersbench - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:09 PM

        Agreed. Neither of them have exhibited any leadership skills.

  7. phillysports1 - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    @thesixersbench

    Don’t worry, almost every organization right now would love to be in our shoe.

  8. phillysports1 - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    You guys drafted Anthony Bennett !

  9. coasttocoast12 - Jun 20, 2014 at 2:53 PM

    They got the best coach in Europe, I am looking forward to 2014 Cavs.

  10. boctavious - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    Just heard the cavs will do a sign and trade for the #1 pick to the Knicks for Melo. Kyrie, Melo, LBJ.

  11. 00maltliquor - Jun 20, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    If things go well with Blatt you can be sure that this whole Euro-coach thing will become a trend within the next 2-3 years.

    Also, can you really call him the 1st European head coach when the article states that he’s actually American? Yeah he got his start overseas but he’s a ‘Merican!

  12. ljl2 - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    Apparently when this site posted that Blatt may be interviewing with some teams and did not mention Cavs and I got down voted for suggesting them, I wasn’t so far off…

  13. realfootballfan - Jun 20, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    Things might be looking up for Cleveland. That bust waiting to happen 7 footer hurt himself so they’ll probably dodge that bullet by default, and there are some very good players in this draft. Now, if they can keep crazy owner out of the way, it’ll be all good.

  14. jadaruler - Jun 20, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    Finally the Cavs do something smart. Bet they take Parker with first pick.

  15. edavidberg - Jun 21, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    This was a great hire. After ripping them for taking Anthony Bennett and re-hiring Mike Brown I have to put this out there. If they take Parker they are all set. It may turn out that Parker is the best player in the draft.

  16. xli2006 - Jun 21, 2014 at 7:01 PM

    Well, that about closes the door on the Lebron to Cleveland chatter (which had about a 0.000001% chance of happening before this hire).

  17. enigma2742 - Jun 22, 2014 at 11:48 PM

    MARK JACKSON LIONEL HOLLINS NO. YOU GET A GUY FROM TEL AVI LOL. CLEVELAND GIVE UP YOUR FRANCHISE YOUR A JOKE

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