David Blatt is “priority one” for the Nets as they seek a new head coach, a source told Russia’s TASS news agency, which identifies the fired Cavs coach as one of the leading candidates for the Brooklyn coaching vacancy. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders first reported that the Nets are interested in Blatt, though Fred Kerber of the New York Post this weekend referred instead to Tom Thibodeau, reportedly an object of strong interest from the team, as Brooklyn’s probable top target. Regardless, owner Mikhail Prokhorov reportedly wants to hire a GM before he hires a coach, and the team’s goal is apparently to have a GM in place before the February 18th trade deadline.
Blatt has also been linked to the Lakers and Timberwolves, but those teams appear committed to Byron Scott and Sam Mitchell, respectively, through at least the end of the season. Tony Brown has been serving as the interim coach of the Nets since the team canned Lionel Hollins earlier this month. TASS correctly predicted, after one of its reporters spent time in Brooklyn with Nets management, that the team would fire Hollins once it found a replacement for him, though the Nets denied the story, as NetsDaily points out. Prokhorov, like TASS, is from Russia, and Blatt used to coach the Russian national team, which has received significant financial backing from Prokhorov in the past, as NetsDaily also notes.
Earlier reports have linked the Nets to Luke Walton, John Calipari, Monty Williams and, more loosely, Chris Mullin, but Mikhail Prokhorov has so far reportedly balked at Calipari’s price tag. The owner has also expressed a preference for a separate GM and coach, which runs counter to the dual role that the Kentucky coach would apparently seek.