Report: Cavaliers reach deal with David Blatt to be head coach

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A lot of casual Cavaliers fans are going to say, “who?” and just shake their heads.

A lot of people around the NBA are going to nod their heads and say “good hire.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers have reached a deal to have international coaching star and innovative offensive mind David Blatt take over as head coach, reports Mary Schmitt Boyer at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

David Blatt, who just resigned as coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv last week, has reached an agreement to become the 20th head coach of the Cavaliers, replacing Mike Brown who was fired on May 12, an NBA source told The Plain Dealer on Friday.

This will be the first NBA job for the well-respected Blatt, an American who played for Pete Carril at Princeton and has played and coached in Europe the past 33 years. He also will become the first European head coach to be picked to run an NBA team.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports add details.

It became clear this was the direction things were headed last night when Alvin Gentry agreed to take the job as Steve Kerr’s lead assistant in Golden State, the other job Blatt was considering. Blatt to Cleveland likely means Tyron Lue will stay with the Clippers and jump up a slot to lead assistant (Gentry’s old slot) next to Doc Rivers.

Blatt just led Maccabi Tel Aviv to a surprise EuroLeague title and before that coached Russia to a bronze medal at the London Olympics. However he was on the radar of NBA teams before that as a future NBA coach in large part thanks to what is seen as an innovative offense. He is an outside the box thinker.

A few may say, “this hurts the Cavaliers chances of getting LeBron James to come back this summer.” No, because that was not going to happen anyway. It’s like saying me not shaving today hurts my chance of a date with Kate Upton tonight. Besides, LeBron studies and knows the game, if he sees and offense where players share the ball, move off the ball and are unselfish he might think “I just got beat by an offense like that, I should consider it.”

The biggest challenge for Blatt is getting the players to buy in — in Europe (more like college ball) the coach has the power. There are also fewer games and more practices. The NBA it’s the elite players who have the power and the best coaches get those players to buy in. Blatt may well have that skill — and Kyrie Irving will love his offense (if he’s willing to move the ball to get it back).

Former Cav Anthony Parker, now an Orlando scout, played for Blatt in Israel and often cited him as his favorite coach, calling him one of the top basketball coaches in the world.

Rumor: Grizzlies had to choose between Marc Gasol and David Fizdale

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David Fizdale has been linked to most of the NBA’s head-coaching vacancies.

He developed a legion of backers as lead a Heat assistant, and he did good things guiding the Grizzlies before they unexpectedly fired him. He deserves consideration.

But he also must explain his fractured relationship with Memphis star Marc Gasol. They weren’t speaking for a while.

And maybe the problem was even worse than that.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to a source close to Fizdale briefed on the Grizzlies’ decision, it was ownership having to make a choice — trade their All-Star center Marc Gasol, who has fallen in love with its small-market city, or fire the coach. Their relationship had gotten that bad.

If Grizzlies ownership felt it had to choose between Gasol and Fizdale, it’s not clear why.

Fizdale benched Gasol down the stretch during the coach’s last game, and Gasol publicly expressed his frustration.

But Gasol denied issuing a me-or-Fizdale ultimatum. Fizdale said focus on his relationship with Gasol was “overblown,” adding he cared far more about whether he could win with a player than whether they got along personally.

Memphis obviously sided with Gasol – probably too strongly.

LeBron James bought Cavs teammates matching designer suits to wear to game tonight

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I’m still trying to decide if this is cool or a little too Stepford.

The Cavaliers rolled into the Bakers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tonight wearing matching designer suits, all paid for by LeBron James and custom fitted to each player.

If a college team rolled into a game in four-digit designer suits, the NCAA would have questions. And not about the vests.

The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team, and if he wants to buy his teammates suits and tell them to wear them it’s going to happen. Is it a bonding thing that helps bring them together? Sure. Is it in place to make sure LeBron remembers which ones are his new teammates? Probably not.

Do the suits help on the court? No. And the Cavaliers better bring it in Game 3 because if they go down 2-1 in this series — something that is a realistic possibility — the whispers of doubt are going to get a lot louder.

Report: Knicks to discuss coaching vacancy with Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer

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Mike Budenholzer is restless in Atlanta, seeing a rebuild coming and looking at other jobs (something Hawks management is fine with). He went down the road a ways with the Suns before pulling out of that process, but he’s still looking around.

The Knicks are casting a wide net in their search, talking to virtually everyone looking for coaching jobs.

So, this seemed inevitable, right? Budenholzer and the Knicks are going to talk, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This will be very preliminary. The Knicks have already had some level of conversation with Mark Jackson, David Fizdale, Jerry Stackhouse, David Blatt, Mike Woodson, and TNT analyst Kenny Smith (Jackson and Fizdale are the rumored early leaders). Budenholzer has established a style and culture in Atlanta, giving the franchise a path forward. New York could certainly use that.

However, the Knicks job comes with real challenges, too. That starts with James Dolan as owner and the erratic, at times paranoid culture he has created there. Also, expectations in New York are always high, but the team will be without Kristaps Porzigis for at least half (maybe all) of the upcoming season as he recovers from an ACL injury, and that puts a ceiling on the team in the short term. Is all that worth leaving Atlanta for?

 

Stephen Curry to begin “modified” practices with Warriors

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Golden State has flipped the switch in the first round, going up 3-0 on overmatched San Antonio. The Warriors have been outscoring the Spurs by 20.2 points per 100 possessions in the series, allowing less than a point per possession on defense and scoring when and where they want. Kevin Durant is averaging 27.3 points per game, Klay Thompson is shooting 63.3 percent from three and scoring 25.7 points per game, and the Warriors are clicking.

But they are not yet whole — they need Stephen Curry back. Not for this round, but before the Western Conference Finals for sure.

Curry was re-evaluated Friday and will begin practicing with the team in a limited — or “modified” to use the team’s term — way.

The target has always been a return somewhere during the second round, and that still seems to be on track. That is also a little faster than traditional for a Grade 2 MCL sprain, which can take up to two months to heal (not the 4-6 weeks of the Warriors timeline), but the Warriors are being cautious here for now.

Eventually, the Warriors will need him back — their offense is built around Curry and his ball movement and movement off the ball. Curry’s gravity to draw defenders, even when he doesn’t have the ball, opens up the floor for others. Put simply, if he’s 28 feet from the bucket on the weak side defenders still have to watch and be near him, and help defenders need to be aware, which pulls the defense to wherever he is. Without Curry and the Warriors take more midrange jumpers, it’s just in the first round series against the Spurs they are hitting them.