The Cavs have named David Blatt head coach, the team announced. The 55-year-old Massachusetts native makes an unprecented jump from Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv straight into an NBA head coaching position despite a lack of NBA experience as a player, coach or executive.
Cleveland and the Mike Tannenbaum client were deep into discussions on a deal Thursday night and had resumed talks Friday morning following reports that the Cavs had offered him the job. It’s a four-year contract worth $3.33MM in base salary each season, with incentive clauses that would bump the annual salaries as high as $5MM. The fourth year is a team option.
Blatt beats out Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue, who briefly was the lone competition in a two-man race Thursday. Fellow Clippers assistant Alvin Gentry, whom like Lue received a second interview with the team, instead accepted a position Thursday night as an assistant for the Warriors. Blatt was on Cleveland’s radar from the start of its search, but he emerged as a strong candidate late in the process, and his announcement last week that he was leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv to pursue an NBA job appeared to accelerate the process. He said at that time that he’d spoken with GM David Griffin by phone, and this week he had a formal interview with the club.
Blatt has drawn raves for his work overseas, and as the head man for the Russian national team, he worked with Sergey Karasev, whom the Cavs picked 19th in last year’s draft. Still, multiple reports indicate that the hiring all but removes Cleveland from the race to land LeBron James this summer. Still, the Cavs aren’t concerned with adding either a coach or players to bend to the four-time MVP’s wishes, tweets Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio.
The Warriors were pushing Blatt to become an assistant coach for them, and people close to him were apparently advising him to pursue the Golden State job rather than become the first European coach to take an NBA head coaching position. The Timberwolves and Hawks were also reportedly eyeing him for assistant coaching positions, and in Minnesota’s case, he appeared to be Flip Saunders‘ top choice to become a coach-in-waiting of sorts who’d eventually take over as head coach for Saunders.
The Cavs reportedly also interviewed Mark Price, Alvin Gentry, Adrian Griffin, Tyronn Lue, Vinny Del Negro and Lionel Hollins for their head coaching job. Nate McMillan and Mark Jackson also drew mention as candidates. The Cavs also appeared to make a strong run at hiring marquee college coaches John Calipari, Kevin Ollie, Billy Donovan and Tom Izzo.
Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images. Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer first reported that the sides had reached an agreement, along with additional detail. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that it was a four year deal, later following with the annual numbers (Twitter links). Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com noted that the final year is a team option (on Twitter) and Sam Amick of USA Today confirmed the full value of the contract, including incentives (Twitter link). Sam Amico noted that the Cavs aren’t trying to impress LeBron James with the hiring or with the addition of any certain players this summer.