Mac TA optimistic of bringing Blatt back

Former coach offered three-year deal to return to struggling club he guided to Euroleague title.

By
June 14, 2017 05:29
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is hoping David Blatt will accept the club’s three-year offer to become its next co

Maccabi Tel Aviv is hoping David Blatt will accept the club’s three-year offer to become its next coach in the coming days. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Maccabi Tel Aviv is hoping to officially name David Blatt as its new head coach by the weekend as it looks to begin the rebuilding process from a disastrous campaign.

Maccabi was aiming to salvage something from 2016/17 by winning the BSL championship. But its bitterly disappointing season ended an appropriate manner on Monday night when it was beaten by Maccabi Haifa in the Final Four semifinals.

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For the first time in its history, Maccabi has failed to win the Israeli championship three years running, with the yellow-andblue not even reaching the league final since winning its last BSL title under Blatt’s guidance in 2014.

Tel Aviv set multiple negative club records, including most defeats in a season (35, previous worst was 20), most defeats in a European campaign (20, previous worst was 11) and longest losing streak (8, previous worst was 6).

The defeat to Haifa ended Arik Shivek’s short one-month tenure as head coach.

Shivek only guided the team in four games, replacing Ainars Bagatskis ahead of the playoffs to become the team’s fourth coach of the season.

The Latvian was only appointed last December, with Rami Hadar resigning following less than two months at the helm after beginning the season as an assistant coach to Erez Edelstein, who was fired after only two Euroleague games.



Maccabi’s ownership is hoping it will finally find some stability with Blatt, who left the yellow-and-blue for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2014 after guiding Tel Aviv to the Euroleague title.

Blatt was fired by the Cavs in January 2016 and after failing to land another head coaching position in the NBA, he signed a deal with Turkish club Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul. He took Darussafaka to the Euroleague quarterfinals this season, but has little interest in continuing with the team as it will be playing in the Eurocup next season.

Blatt was offered a deal estimated at $4.5 million over three seasons by Maccabi and his biggest obstacle looks to be Darussafaka’s insistence on being compensated for his departure.

Blatt is in Turkey in an attempt to finalize the breakup and Maccabi’s management is crossing its fingers he will put pen to paper in the coming days.

Should the Blatt deal fall through, Maccabi is set to turn to Croatian Neven Spahija, who coached Maccabi in 2006/07 and is currently an assistant coach at the Atlanta Hawks. Regardless of the identity of the next coach, Maccabi’s roster is set to undergo a complete overhaul this summer.

Andrew Goudelock, Victor Rudd and Colton Iverson are among those who will leave, with Maccabi likely to make major changes to its Israeli core. Yogev Ohayon is ending a contract and Maccabi is set to offer him a new deal that will pay around 50 percent less of what he earned this season.

Gal Mekel and Sylven Landesberg are both under contract, but they may also be on their way out, with the future of captain Guy Pnini also far from guaranteed.

In fact, the only player who seems certain to be back for another season is young center Itay Segev.

Maccabi Haifa’s nationalized guard John DiBartolomeo, who scored 19 points in Monday’s game, and Bnei Herzliya’s Israeli forward Karam Mashour, are two names Maccabi is set to target.

All of the decisions regarding the roster are on hold until a new coach is signed, with Maccabi’s ownership praying Blatt will be the man.


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