David Blatt

World Cup Notes: France, Latvia, Aldama, Blatt

Team France general manager Boris Diaw said the two losses that eliminated the team from World Cup contention were troubling in different ways, according to Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops.net.

“The two games were very different. First game against Canada, a team that plays very tough,” he said. “I think the concern there was that we gave up at the end of the game. On the way to losing the game. You don’t want to lose by 30 by giving up in the last minutes. That was one concern. Latvia was different. This is a game where we could’ve really played together. But we didn’t play all the way until the end and didn’t play smart enough to win.”

We have more updates from the FIBA World Cup international competition:

  • Speaking of Team Latvia, former NBA forward Rodions Kurucs called the win over France “amazing” and cited his team’s toughness and togetherness for the upset win, according to Stroggylakis. “I played the whole game fighting on defense,” he said. “We were sharing the ball really well. Every 50-50 ball, every rebound, we fought for it.”
  • Following Spain’s win over Brazil, Grizzlies big man Santi Aldama spoke to Stroggylakis about his national team’s winning culture. “I think the winning part is secondary,” Aldama said. “Meaning, the culture here that’s really good. And I think that’s what makes this team a winning team. That’s what we have to built on. We work very hard every day, we have to continue doing that and let it talk through our game.”
  • Canada is 2-0 heading into its game against Latvia on Tuesday. Former Cavaliers coach David Blatt is a general consultant for the Canadian team and spoke of its aims to Stroggylakis. “I’m a part of a great organization and I’m happy to be a part of what we’re trying to accomplish here with Canada basketball. And that’s becoming a team of the highest level in the FIBA scene and performing well in all competitions we’re part in,” he said.

International Notes: LNB, Yabusele, Calathes, Blatt

One side effect of the NBA’s changing schedule will be the impact it has on international players interested in coming stateside, as Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype writes. If the NBA’s free agency period doesn’t begin until September or October, it will no longer line up with the offseason for international leagues, reducing the likelihood that players in Europe will be able to exercise NBA outs in their contracts.

“Every year, there are a number of overseas players who exercise their buyout clause to sign with an NBA team, and the deadline for those buyout clauses is normally between July 10 and July 20,” one international agent told Kennedy. “That way, it’s during the free-agency period and the player has the option of participating in Summer League beforehand to see if an NBA team is going to offer him a guaranteed deal or a two-way contract.”

Typically, the offseasons for the NBA and most top international leagues overlap, making it simpler for players to make the leap one way or the other. If that’s not the case for 2020, it’ll be a minor problem in the coming months. However, if this season’s unusual circumstances prompt the NBA to shift its calendar on a more permanent basis, it’ll become a more significant long-term issue that will require some sort of solution.

Here are a few more notes from around the basketball world:

  • The LNB, France’s top basketball league, has canceled the rest of its 2019/20 season without crowing a champion due to COVID-19, as Dario Skerletic of Sportando relays. The league announced the news in a press release.
  • French team ASVEL Basket is prioritizing a contract extension for former NBA first-rounder and Celtics forward Guerschon Yabusele, and both sides are optimistic about reaching a new deal, according to a report from BeBasket (hat tip to Sportando).
  • Former NBA guard Nick Calathes, who played in 129 games with Memphis from 2013-15, has reportedly agreed to terms on a three-year deal with Barcelona, per Sport24.gr (hat tip to Sportando). Calathes had spent the last several seasons with Panathinaikos in Greece, earning a spot on the All-EuroLeague First Team in 2018 and 2019.
  • Czech basketball club BC Brno has a new co-owner, and former NBA head coach David Blatt is involved, per Valia Pilianidi of TalkBasket. As Pilianidi details – and as the club announced in a press release – Brno’s new co-owners are the Israeli company True Player Group, which is half-owned by Blatt’s family.

Knicks Not Retaining Consultant David Blatt

The Knicks are parting ways with David Blatt, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link), who reports that Blatt’s contract has expired after he was hired by the team as a basketball operations consultant last December.

Blatt, a longtime basketball coach who was on the Cavaliers’ sidelines from 2014-16, was hired by the Knicks in the winter after most recently serving as the head coach of Greek team Olympiacos. His role in New York saw him working with the Knicks’ G League team and the organization’s international scouting.

Former Knicks president Steve Mills was responsible for hiring Blatt, who was his teammate at Princeton from 1978-81. Given the close relationship between the two men, it’s unsurprising that the Knicks are moving on from Blatt now that Mills no longer has a role in the club’s basketball operations department. However, Berman notes that Blatt leaves on “good terms” with new team president Leon Rose.

After officially starting his new position on March 2, Rose figures to make more changes to the Knicks’ front office in the coming months. So far though, the team hasn’t been actively hiring or firing executives during the NBA’s hiatus.

Knicks Notes: Blatt, Trier, Ntilikina

David Blatt, who recently was hired by the Knicks as a consultant, says he’s happy to be with the team.

“I feel very fortunate,’’ Blatt said, as Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. “I’m happy to be here.’’

What exactly Blatt will be doing for the Knicks remains vague, though Berman hears that former coach will conduct some scouting in Europe for the Knicks among other duties. Evaluating talent on the team and giving input to interim coach Mike Miller will also be part of his responsibilities.

Here’s more from New York:

  • It wouldn’t be farfetched to think that if team president Steve Mills is retained, the executive would allow Blatt to have a say in the Knicks’ next head coach, Berman writes in the same piece. This is assuming the team moves on from Miller.
  • Allonzo Trier hasn’t seen meaningful action this season, but the team still views him as a valuable asset, Zach Braziller of the New York Post relays. “We’ve got confidence in Zo,” Miller said. “We know what he can do, and we’ve gotten into some situations where we need some scoring we’ve called his number. We went to him, he comes in does what he does, and makes some plays.”
  • Frank Ntilikina has no problem with being relegated to the bench, as Berman passes along in a separate piece. “I’m comfortable,’’ Ntilikina said of the switch. “It’s just a role change. When I’m on the court, I know it’s my job. I got to do my job and bring everything I can to the team.’’
  • Ntilikina would have been better served by spending at least one more season abroad in a league more competitive than the French one he played in, one NBA personnel man told Berman in that same piece. The Knicks drafted him with the No. 8 pick in the 2017 draft as a 19-year-old.

Knicks Hire David Blatt As Basketball Operations Consultant

The Knicks have hired former Cavaliers head coach David Blatt as a basketball operations consultant, the team announced today in a press release. According to a statement from president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry, Blatt will be involved with the Knicks’ G League team and the organization’s international scouting.

Blatt, who coached the Cavaliers to an 83-40 record (.675) from 2014-16, most recently served as the head coach of Greek team Olympiacos. However, he parted ways with the franchise in October after having been diagnosed earlier this year with multiple sclerosis.

In his own statement relayed by the Knicks, Blatt indicated that Olympiacos job will end up being his last as a head coach.

“I look forward to the next step in my career as I officially retire from coaching and pursue other opportunities in basketball,” Blatt said. “I’ve long been intrigued by working in a front office and thank Steve and Scott for the opportunity to be a resource to the basketball operations staff.”

Blatt, 60, also served as the head coach of Turkey’s Darussafaka, Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, and several other clubs over the course of his lengthy career. He has a close relationship with Mills, as the two men were teammates at Princeton from 1978-81. Mills is believed to be on the hot seat in New York, so it’s worth noting that he’s still being permitted to make front office hires.

Olympiacos Parts With David Blatt, Eyeing Scott Skiles

Greek team Olympiacos recently parted ways with one former NBA head coach and now may be eyeing another to replace him.

Olympiacos confirmed in a press release earlier this week that David Blatt, former coach of the Cavaliers, would no longer be coaching the team. Blatt spent the 2018/19 season with the club, but left his post just one game into the EuroLeague season in 2019/20 in a departure the two sides classified as mutual.

“After a long and respectful discussion between the owners and myself, our two parties have decided it’s in the best interest of both sides to part ways,” Blatt said in a statement.

The veteran coach, who was diagnosed earlier this year with multiple sclerosis, spoke to Lenny Megliola of The Boston Globe about his decision, admitting that he “had to be honest about certain limitations” he had. There were no hard feeling between him and the team, Blatt added.

With the European season underway, Olympiacos is in the market for a new permanent head coach, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), former NBA coach Scott Skiles has been contacted to gauge his interest.

Coaching still interests Scott,” agent Keith Glass said of Skiles, who last worked in the NBA when he coached the Magic during the 2015/16 season. Skiles previously served as the head coach for the Suns, Bulls, and Bucks, compiling a record of 478-480 (.499) and winning a pair of playoff series in 14 NBA seasons. It’s not clear whether or not he intends to pursue the Olympiacos job.

Kęstutis Kemzūra, who had been an assistant coach under Blatt, is currently serving as Olympiacos’ interim head coach.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Anthony, Young, Blatt

Victor Oladipo is sure the Pacers will make the playoffs due to the additions of Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb, among others, as he told J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star.

“I feel like we got some great additions. We got a chance to be really special. I feel like the league is wide open,” the Pacers’ guard said. “I was excited for the opportunity to play with (Brogdon). I know what type of player he is, the level that he plays on and has been playing on the last couple of years from Milwaukee. To have him as an addition is pretty big for us.”

Oladipo is working his way back from a quad injury and it’s uncertain whether he’ll be ready by the time the Pacers open training camp. “I’m not sure yet,” he told Mark Monteith of the team’s website.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Adding free agent Carmelo Anthony to the mix never made any sense for the Pistons, as Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press explains in his latest mailbag. Anthony’s game is predicated on isolation plays and that doesn’t fit the Pistons’ system. He’s also spent most of his time at power forward in recent seasons and the Pistons already signed Markieff Morris, a better defender, to back up Blake Griffin. They also added another veteran forward, Michael Beasley, to compete for a roster spot, Ellis adds.
  • Thaddeus Young is a quality finisher and that will help boost the Bulls’ offense, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. Young shot 67.9% from inside three feet for the Pacers last season, while Chicago ranked 28th in the NBA in field goal percentage inside five feet, making just 58% of its attempts, Strotman notes. Young jumped teams on a three-year, $41MM pact early in the free agent season.
  • Former Cavaliers coach David Blatt is battling multiple sclerosis but plans to continue coaching, according to an Associated Press report. He’s currently the coach of the Greek team Olympiacos Piraeus. “I am a coach and my job is to lead and teach and inspire a lot of people,” Blatt wrote in the statement. “Not being as agile or active doesn’t affect my ability to do those things.”

And-Ones: Canada, Blatt, HOF, Dixson

Per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, former Indiana University basketball player and Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald has been named the new president and CEO of Canada Basketball.

A native of Chicago, Grunwald was hired by the Raptors in 1994 as the team’s vice president for legal affairs and assistant general manager under former college teammate Isiah Thomas. Grunwald took over for Thomas in a few years later, eventually orchestrating a trade for Vince Carter that led to three straight playoff berths from 2000 to 2002.

Since that time, Grunwald has been heavily involved in all things Canadian. He obtained Canadian citizenship in 1999, served as the president and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade, and even spent time as the Athletic Director at McMaster University in Ontario.

“I’m honoured and proud to have this opportunity to work with Canada Basketball,” said Grunwald in a press release announcing his hiring. “This is an exciting time for the sport in our country and I look forward to working with the entire basketball community to continue the tremendous progress the sport has made here at all levels.”

Here are a few more items from around the basketball universe:

  • Former Cavaliers and current Olympiacos head coach David Blatt has called for an end to the dispute between FIBA and the EuroLeague, per Antigoni Zachari of EuroHoops. Saying the conflict is a matter of egos and political designs, Blatt iterated how the two organizations ongoing spat is not good for the sport of basketball.
  • In addition to Shawn Marion, who we highlighted here, Joe Nguyen of The Denver Post also opines that the following players could find their way into the Hall of Fame next year – guards Chauncey Billups, Tim Hardaway, Sidney Moncrief, and Kevin Johnson; and forwards Chris Webber and Ben Wallace.
  • Less than two weeks after working out for the Hawks, undrafted rookie Dikembe Dixson has signed with the Lebanese Basketball League’s Hoops Club, according to Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Dixson, 22, posted career averages of 17.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in his three seasons at UIC.

And-Ones: Blatt, Trade Details, Toupane

After interviewing for multiple NBA head coaching jobs this offseason, David Blatt has reached an agreement that will keep him in Europe. As Orazio Cauchi of Sportando relays, Blatt has signed a two-year contract to coach Greek powerhouse Olympiacos.

The former head coach of the Cavaliers, Blatt has spent most of his career overseas. Over the last two seasons he served as the head coach for Turkish team Darussafaka, and prior to his stint in Cleveland, he coached Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. Now, Blatt – who met with the Bucks and Knicks this spring before they hired Mike Budenholzer and David Fizdale, respectively – will continue his coaching career in Greece.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the NBA:

  • Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has the details on a couple trades that went down on draft night, reporting that the Rockets bought the No. 52 overall pick from the Jazz for $1.5MM and the Trail Blazers sent the Kings $1.5MM in their deal for Gary Trent Jr.‘s draft rights (Twitter links).
  • Axel Toupane, who appeared in 25 total NBA regular season games in 2016 and 2017, is working out privately for NBA clubs this week, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). A 6’7″ wing, Toupane played for Zalgiris Kaunas in 2017/18, helping lead the Lithuanian club to a spot in the EuroLeague Final Four.
  • In an excellent breakdown for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks previews the coming offseason for all 30 teams, detailing each club’s key decisions and cap situation.

Coaching Notes: Hornets, Hawks, Bucks, Blatt

After reaching an agreement to hire former Suns head coach Jay Triano as a top assistant, the Hornets are adding another coach to James Borrego‘s new staff in Charlotte. According to Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link), former Magic assistant Jay Hernandez has agreed to a deal with the Hornets.

Hernandez, who had been working under Frank Vogel in Orlando, was let go at the same time Vogel was fired by the Magic last month. Hernandez’s name surfaced as one to watch in New York when David Fizdale was hired, but he’ll land in Charlotte instead, teaming up with Borrego and Triano on the Hornets’ new-look bench.

Here are a few more coaching-related updates from around the basketball world:

  • Lloyd Pierce has begun to fill out his coaching staff in Atlanta, with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reporting that former Mavericks assistant Melvin Hunt will join the Hawks at Pierce’s lead assistant, while former Suns assistant Marlon Garnett will also be part of the team’s staff. Marc Stein of The New York Times first reported (via Twitter) that the Hawks were in advanced discussions with Hunt.
  • Many of the Hawks‘ former assistants are preparing to relocate to Milwaukee along with Mike Budenholzer, leaving the Bucks‘ old staff in the lurch. Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times looks at what’s next for those Bucks assistants.
  • Darussafaka head coach David Blatt is receiving some interest from EuroLeague powerhouse CSKA Moscow, according to a report from La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Blatt, who interviewed for multiple NBA coaching jobs this spring, has an extensive international résumé that includes a stint as head coach of the Russian national team.
  • At Sportando, Carchia passes along another La Gazzetta dello Sport story, as the Italian outlet reports that Sergio Scariolo – the coach of Spain’s national team – is pursuing an opportunity to become an assistant in the NBA.