Although he won't rule out giving it another shot, the legendary European coach is focused on his new job overseas
POSTED: Jun 11, 2016 11:29 AM ET
David Blatt posted a record of 83-40 in 123 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
TREVISO, Italy — David Blatt was giving a speech to players and coaches at the adidas Eurocamp on Saturday afternoon about life lessons sprinkled with some basketball when he came to the part about accepting a lesser role for the good of the team.
"Do you know Andre Iguodala?" he asked the audience inside the main gym of the La Ghirada Sports Complex.
Many players nodded.
"So do I, unfortunately," Blatt said.
Iguodala was the perfect example to illustrate the point, the one-time starting small forward in Golden State who went to the bench without complaint and became a key to the 2015 championship while being named Finals MVP in a not-so-lesser role after all. Saturday, he was also Blatt's punchline at his own expense, the gallows humor of Blatt knowing Iguodala all too well from a year ago, when Iguodala and the Warriors won the title at the expense of the Cavaliers and coach David Blatt.
It was coach David Blatt of Turkish club Darussafaka who spoke at the largest gathering of current and future international prospects for the NBA Draft. A team in Istanbul, not Cleveland. The shorthanded Cavs had a commendable showing last June, lost to Golden State in six games, management became increasingly concerned about the mood inside the locker room, and Blatt was fired in January, caring not that they came close to a championship or had the best record in the Eastern Conference at the time.
He wanted to still be in the NBA, especially with the Knicks, the job Blatt really wanted. But New York hired Jeff Hornacek. He had strong interest in the Kings. But Sacramento chose Dave Joerger. Blatt also interviewed for the Rockets' vacancy. But Houston hired Mike D'Antoni. So, Turkey.
"I don't think that my chances are gone," Blatt told NBA.com. "I just think right now I'm not thinking about. But, no. I think I did enough good things in the NBA and I know enough people to where if it's my desire in some way, shape or form to come back that I could. But it's just not what I'm thinking about right now."
It is his desire.
"I would one day," he said. "But I'm trying to focus right now on my next challenge. I never sat and dreamed on a daily basis of being in the NBA and it happened because I worked hard and was part of enough very successful things that it made me a viable candidate. I hope to do the same thing and if I want the same result could come."
It's hardly a bad outcome. Blatt is a coaching legend in Europe after growing up in the Boston area and playing at Princeton and then enjoying great success in Israel, Russia and Italy in particular, including a stint here with Italian club Benetton Treviso. Much of the continent feels comfortable, not just La Ghirada.
It's just that this is no place to put much distance on the 123 games with Cleveland. It is not quite five months since he was fired after 1 ½ seasons, hardly time to heal, and most of all the Eurocamp address came about six hours after the Cavaliers lost Game 4 of the Finals rematch with Golden State. Cavs-Warriors, the NBA run that really wasn't after years of his name being connected with pro jobs in North America ... and Iguodala. There is no escape.
There is avoidance, though: Blatt is not watching the championship series.
"It's hard for me to watch the team on TV right now," he said. "I follow the Finals and I certainly watched a lot of the playoff games, but it's a little hard for me to watch the games on TV right now. But I'm certainly aware of what's going on."
How the Cavaliers appear headed to the same outcome while much healthier than a year ago. How many of the chemistry issues were put on him, good results or not. And, yes, that speculation has centered on Blatt being fired because LeBron James issued a directive from on high that Tyronn Lue be elevated from assistant coach to the No. 1 chair.
"No," Blatt told NBA.com, dismissing the notion of James as the impetus for change. "I don't know exactly why. But that's not what I think."
Enough time has passed that Blatt has been able to process the decision that may not alter the outcome -- a Finals loss and the best record in the East with him, a Finals loss without him -- but not enough to be able to watch Cleveland in The Finals. It still stings.
An ocean and a continent away, back in the familiar territory of Europe and Treviso, he isn't able to get far from the Cavs yet. Or Iguodala, unfortunately.
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