David Blatt was revered as a European coaching legend, having won Israeli Coach of the Year four times, Russian Coach of the Year once and Euroleague Coach of the Year once.
For about a season and a half, it also looked as if he’d make it in his native USA also.
A trip to the Finals in his first season with the Cleveland Cavaliers and first in the NBA’s Eastern Conference meant he looked like he was in for the long haul.
All of a sudden, he was out of a job – replaced by his assistant Tyronn Lue, who boasted no previous head coaching experience.
So how did it all happen? If you believe General Manager David Griffin, it was “a lack of fit with our personal vision”. Others have suggested a LeBron-centred conspiracy.
Whatever you believe, Blatt is now a free agent coach, and a coach with his resume does not stay a free agent for long.
Will he coach again in the NBA? Hard to tell. But if he does, these teams are where it’s most likely to be.
One of two teams on this list actively “looking” for a new head coach, the Brooklyn Nets might actually prove to be a better fit for Blatt than the Cleveland Cavaliers.
While Blatt’s Princeton offence was swiftly rejected by Cleveland, Brooklyn may take to it a bit more kindly.
With no mammoth egos in the locker room to satisfy, and a team with a heavier skill-set based game, Blatt could work wonders with a Nets team that no-one beforehand has been able to work out.
The Washington Wizards so far rate as one of the disappointments of the season. They currently sit at 10th in the East, two games below .500, and considering last year’s efforts, this ranks far from good enough.
Randy Wittman has done wonders with this Washington side so far, but it may unfortunately be that he’s taken them as far as he can. Enter David Blatt.
A similar team to Brooklyn, one would think John Wall would thrive in David Blatt’s motion/ball movement focused offence. Considering the current state of play, it’s more than worth a try.
The Phoenix Suns are the latest team looking for a new head coach, having sacked Jeff Hornacek not long ago.
While they are a younger, more athletic team than Blatt usually coaches, the talent of guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight as well as the untapped raw potential of Alex Len is surely enough to tempt Blatt were he offered the job.
This is a young team that wants to succeed, but just doesn’t quite know how. Hornacek tapped into that a few years back, but couldn’t maintain it. Surely Blatt and his 20+ years of head coaching experience could.
The Houston Rockets have committed to JB Bickerstaff for the rest of 2016, and that’s fine. Good on them for giving him a go. But what this team needs is a coach far beyond the experience of Bickerstaff.
Whilst this role may turn Blatt off given the ego managing required between James Harden and Dwight Howard, but if they agreed to embrace his offence (which LeBron did not), there may be no cause for concern.
A prime Blatt operating with Harden and Howard on the same court could prove lethal. Whilst it is the least likely eventuation, it is still a fascinating situation to ponder.