Basketball / Sports

Popular European coach David Blatt leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv, will meet with Cavs next week

The Cleveland Cavaliers' coaching search took another fascinating twist on Thursday when Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt announced he was resigning to pursue a job in the NBA.

Blatt has already spoken at least once to General Manager David Griffin about filling the Cavs' vacancy, a league source confirmed, and he told reporter David Pick in Israel he will meet with the Cavs next week in Cleveland.

The Cavs and Los Angeles Lakers are the only teams with head coaching vacancies, although he has been linked to assistant jobs with the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and Atlanta Hawks. Blatt confirmed Thursday the reported list of teams interested in him was "fairly accurate," adding the Cavs have not made him an offer to be their coach.

"I feel that this is the right thing for me to do," Blatt told reporters in Israel. "I'm not leaving Maccabi for a bigger contract. I'm not necessarily leaving for a better place. I'm leaving to follow my dream."

Blatt, 55, was born in Boston and played college basketball under legendary coach Pete Carril at Princeton. He played professionally for 12 years in Israel before turning to coaching in 1993. He joined Maccabi in 1999 as an assistant.

He is arguably the hottest coaching name in Europe, winning four Israeli League Coach of the Year awards and guiding Maccabi to a remarkable season that included both a Euroleague championship and an Israeli League championship. It is Blatt's fifth Israeli League title.

"The truth is that I don't know yet where I am going," Blatt said Thursday. "There are several options, good options, and now that I have told Maccabi that I'm leaving I will intensify my talks with NBA teams. I just want to realize a dream and hold a significant role with an NBA team."

The Jerusalem Post reported Blatt returned to the United States last week following the sudden death of his father. While here, he met with Warriors coach Steve Kerr for 45 minutes at Los Angeles International Airport while awaiting his connecting flight to Israel.

It should be no surprise both Griffin and Kerr are interested in the same coach. The two worked closely together with the Phoenix Suns, and one league executive joked at last month's predraft camp in Chicago that the Warriors and Cavs will never be able to get together on a deal now because both Kerr and Griffin value and appreciate the same things.

Apparently that extends now to coaches, too.

Griffin has contacted about 11 coaches to fill the vacancy, one league source estimated. Alvin Gentry, Tyronn Lue, Lionel Hollins, Mark Jackson, Adrian Griffin and Mark Price are among the known NBA coaches to be contacted.

Gentry and Lue will both receive second interviews with the Cavs Friday. Owner Dan Gilbert is expected to attend both interviews.

(c)2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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