Report: Blatt accepts Cavs head coaching job, becomes first Israeli to coach in NBA

Blatt met with Cavs officials and team owner Dan Gilbert over the past few days and was offered the job on Thursday night.

June 20, 2014 11:30
1 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt.

Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt 370. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)

David Blatt has accepted an offer to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers, Yahoo! Sports is reporting on Friday.

The former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach, who departed the Israeli powerhouse after leading it to a Euroleague championship this season, becomes the first Israeli head coach to make it to the NBA.

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Blatt met with Cavs officials and team owner Dan Gilbert over the past few days and was offered the job on Thursday night after beating out Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue for the position.

He announced last week that he is leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv for the NBA, but insisted that he has yet to decide which team he will join and in what capacity.

The 55-year-old, who guided Maccabi to the Euroleague title, BSL championship and State Cup in the past season, had received an offer to serve as the top assistant coach under new Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. However, he now seems set to accept the Cavs head coaching position and not only become the first Israeli to coach in the NBA, but also be the first to make the leap from Europe to the NBA as a head coach.

The Cavs have missed the playoffs in each of the past four seasons and Blatt is expected to become their third head coach in the last three years.

Cleveland is led by 22-year-old All-Star Kyrie Irving and has the first pick in next week's NBA draft.

Blatt, a Boston native, has coached Maccabi over the past four seasons and was also a key contributor to the yellow-and-blue's remarkable success at the turn of the century as an assistant to Pini Gershon for three seasons (1999/2000, 2000/2001, 2003/2004) and a head coach (2001/2002, 2002/2003).

Blatt, who originally moved to Israel in the early 1980’s after playing for the USA basketball team in the 1981 Maccabiah, spent six seasons away from Israel after leaving Maccabi in 2004.

The Princeton University graduate led Russian club Dynamo St. Petersburg to the FIBA EuroCup in 2004 before moving to Italy's Benetton Treviso and winning an Italian championship and cup in his two seasons at the club.

Blatt also led the Russia national team to the European title in 2007, while also guiding the side to a surprise bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

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