David Blatt made the decision a few days ago to leave his post as Maccabi Tel Aviv coach and return to the United States — or more specifically, to join the NBA.
Blatt staged a press conference Thursday to make his departure from Israel official, and that maneuver moved him one step closer to the Cavaliers, and perhaps several other teams.
Blatt, 55, has spent his entire professional playing and coaching career overseas, primarily in Israel. He has been the head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv since 2010.
The Cavs have spoken with Blatt about their head-coaching vacancy, and are said to consider him a serious candidate. But they have not committed — instead only letting it be known they want to talk more.
One source close to the discussions told FOX Sports Ohio the Cavs want to get Blatt to town quickly, as they have been told he is likely to land in an assistant’s role on Steve Kerr’s staff with the Golden State Warriors.
Blatt cannot be offered the Cavs job until he meets with Griffin face-to-face. That meeting is expected soon, with the Cleveland Plain Dealer reporting an interview has been set up for next week.
In the meantime, the Cavs will conduct a second interview with each Tyronn Lue and Alvin Gentry this weekend, sources said. Both Lue and Gentry are assistants on Doc Rivers’ staff with the Los Angeles Clippers, but at different ends of the coaching spectrum.
Lue, 37, has only been an assistant, spending all four years with Rivers. Gentry, 59, has been a head coach with four teams, most recently with the Phoenix Suns, who fired him in 2012-13.
While the Cavs were impressed enough with both candidates to bring them back a second time, it is believed they are a little leery of Lue’s inexperience and Gentry’s ability to manage a young roster.
Either way, the Cavs are performing basketball analytics on the candidates — not necessarily a common approach, but respected, it seems, by those involved from all sides.
According to sources, the numbers revealed Gentry and Lue either led or assisted teams that were strong offensively and below average defensively. The opposite applied to Chicago Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, who has also interviewed for the Cavs job.
As for Blatt, his teams have been known for their sound, methodical offensive approach (he played collegiately at Princeton, notorious for such a style). Blatt’s teams have checked out as average defensively, according to analytics.
Also, talk within the organization is that Griffin isn’t necessarily taking a "splashy" approach to the coaching search, or looking to make a PR-driven move that Gilbert had hoped to see — but that Gilbert is allowing Griffin to conduct the search as he sees fit.