NBA: David Blatt, Euro league coach, hired to lead Cavaliers
CLEVELAND — David Blatt went overseas to chase his basketball dreams. He’s coming back to fulfill them.
One of Europe’s top coaches, Blatt was hired Friday by the Cavaliers, who ended a sweeping, 39-day search with an out-of-the-box selection they hope changes their fortunes.
American-born, Princeton-schooled and considered one of the game’s brightest offensive minds, the 55-year-old Blatt has long been interested in coaching in the NBA and the Cavs will give him his first shot.
The club signed him to a reported three-year deal that includes a team option for a fourth year. Cleveland contacted high-profile college coaches and interviewed both retreaded head coaches and on-the-rise assistants before zeroing in and landing Blatt, who won several European titles while coaching in Israel and guided Russia to a bronze medal at the London Olympics two years ago.
“David Blatt is going to bring some of the most innovative approaches found in professional basketball anywhere on the globe,” Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said. “Time and time again, from Russia to Israel and several other prominent head coaching jobs in between, David has done one thing: ‘win’. He is not only an innovator, well-trained and focused on both sides of the court, but he is always learning and always teaching.
“Whether you are a top draft pick just entering the league, or a seasoned NBA veteran, Coach Blatt is going to take your game and the game of the team you are playing for to a new and higher level. That’s just who the man is and we are proud to call him our new head coach.”
Blatt will be introduced by the team Wednesday, one day before the club picks first in this year’s NBA draft.
Cleveland’s third coach in three years, Blatt replaces Mike Brown, who was fired — for the second time — on May 12, a few weeks after the Cavs finished 33-49 and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Blatt was not believed to be on Cleveland’s radar early in its search, but that changed when he resigned at Maccabi Tel Aviv to pursue an NBA gig.
Top prospect Embiid has foot surgery
Top prospect Joel Embiid had two screws placed in his right foot during surgery Friday to repair a stress fracture that could cause him to fall in next week’s NBA draft.
Dr. Richard Ferkel said in a statement that the surgery on the navicular bone went well and he is confident Embiid will be able to return to the court after “appropriate healing.” Ferkel did not put a timetable on the recovery, but it is expected to be a long process.
Embiid was widely considered one of the top three prospects in the draft and a serious candidate to be chosen No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the injury could turn some teams away from the versatile big man from Kansas.
By wire sources