CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers have gone international to look for a new coach.
The team has contacted Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt about their coaching vacancy, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Friday.
Blatt, a highly regarded offensive coach who guided Russia to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, is one of several candidates who have spoken to the Cavs, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because of the sensitivity of the situation. Blatt has not yet had a formal interview, the person said.
The Cavs are being thorough in their hunt to replace Mike Brown, who was fired on May 12, ending his second stint with the team. Cleveland underachieved under Brown, going 33-49 and missing the playoffs.
The American-born Blatt recently led Maccabi to the European championship. With a roster that included seven former U.S. college players, Maccabi upset heavily favored CSKA Moscow in the semifinals and Real Madrid for the title, setting off a jubilant celebration in Tel Aviv. Following the game, Blatt received congratulatory phone calls from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.
Blatt also has drawn interest from New York, Minnesota and Golden State as an assistant coach.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer was first to report the Cavs were interested in speaking with Blatt.
The Cavs are not commenting during their search. The club has already interviewed Clippers assistants Alvin Gentry and Tyronn Lue, former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins, Chicago assistant Adrian Griffin and former Clippers and Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro. The team has reached out to other candidates as well.
It is not believed that any of the candidates has had a second interview.
Blatt played point guard at Princeton under Pete Carril, whose complex, deliberate offense has been copied by coaches for years. Blatt played pro ball in Israel before he started his coaching career. He spent several years coaching in Russia before taking over Maccabi in 2010.
Blatt took over Russia’s struggling national team in 2006, and the Massachusetts native turned the country’s program around, leading it to the 2007 European championship. Russia, with Cavaliers guard Sergey Karasev on its roster, went 4-1 in pool play at the London Games before losing to Spain in the semifinals.