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This would be an excellent hire for the Cavaliers, as Blatt is considered one of the best basketball coaches outside of the NBA. The term “genius” often gets thrown around when describing Blatt, and it’s a dare-to-be-great move that could really pay off for Cleveland.
Blatt was the head coach of Maccabi Tel-Aviv in Israel, and a number of NBA teams were trying to hire him as an assistant coach including the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors. However, Blatt wanted to make the jump directly to head coach in the NBA and now it seems like he’ll have that opportunity.
The Cavaliers had narrowed their coaching search down to Blatt and Tyronn Lue, but ultimately settled on Blatt due to his tremendous overseas success and reputation as an offensive mastermind. Lue has a lot of supporters around the NBA and it seems it’s only a matter of time until he becomes a head coach, but Cleveland just couldn’t pass on Blatt. After firing Mike Brown, the team is hoping that Blatt can turn around the team’s offensive attack and maximize the roster’s potential.
It will be interesting to see what Blatt can do with Cleveland’s weapons such as Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett and the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. Sergey Karasev, Cleveland’s 19th overall pick in last year’s draft, could also become a significant contributor for the Cavaliers since he has played for Blatt in the past, when the duo led the Russian national team to a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv recently upset Real Madrid in the Euroleague championships, in large part due to Blatt’s terrific coaching of the undermanned squad. Maccabi Tel-Aviv also took down CSKA Moscow during their run. Aaron Jackson, who plays for CSKA Moscow, told Basketball Insiders that this is an outstanding hire for the Cavaliers because Blatt is “literally a genius” with “a ton of ambition.”
Nothing has been finalized yet as the two sides continue to negotiate a contract, but it seems that Blatt will likely be the Cavs’ next coach.
Elfrid Payton’s meteoric rise continues. Entering his junior season at Louisiana-Lafayette, he was being projected as a second-rounder. Now, he could go as high as No. 7 to the Los Angeles Lakers and seems like a lock to go in the mid-teens on draft night.
The fact that the NBA invited him to the draft’s green room shows that he’s likely coming off of the board early on June 26.
Throughout the pre-draft process, Payton has had the chance to work out against some of the other top point guard prospects in this draft class, including Marcus Smart and Tyler Ennis, and he has done a fantastic job in these showdowns. Payton is proving that he can dominate against NBA-level competition even though he didn’t face much of it at ULL. He is essentially this year’s Damian Lillard.
Payton’s shot needs some work, but he has the size (6’4), length (6’8 wingspan) and quickness to cause problems in the NBA, and he’s a terrific two-way player. Not only can he score and create for teammates, he’s a tremendous defender who won last season’s Lefty Driesell Award, which is given to college basketball’s best defender.
Payton has been the biggest climber during this year’s pre-draft process, and it seems like it will culminate in a trip to the green room and lottery selection.
Over the next 24 hours, expect to see which other players were invited to the green room. So far, I’ve heard Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, Doug McDermott, Nik Stauskas, Rodney Hood, T.J. Warren, James Young and Gary Harris have also received invites.
This is a strong hire for Kerr, who had been pursuing a number of notable coaches for his staff including Gentry, David Blatt and Lionel Hollins among others. In order to hire Gentry, the Golden State Warriors had to double the assistant coach’s salary that he made last year with the L.A. Clippers. Gentry and Kerr worked together on the Phoenix Suns, so this pairing makes a lot of sense.
Gentry was receiving some buzz as a head coaching candidate this offseason, even interviewing with the Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers. Last season, the Clippers had one of the best offenses in the league and Gentry received a lot of credit for the unit’s success. Now, he’ll have plenty of offensive weapons to work with in Golden State, as he tries to help Kerr make the transition to coaching.
This hire puts the Clippers in a difficult position, as they are now searching for two assistant coaches since Kevin Eastman was promoted from the coaching staff to the front office. Spears mentions that the Clippers have expressed interest in Lawrence Frank and Mike Woodson as possible assistants to replace Gentry and Eastman.
Woodson and Frank are obviously respected around the league and have a lot of head coaching experience. It remains to be seen if they’d be willing to take assistant jobs at this point. Sometimes, coaches don’t want to take that step back as an assistant and fall out of the pool of available head coaches. Hollins is currently facing the same dilemma, recently telling Basketball Insiders that he wants to coach right now, but doesn’t want to take an assistant job and be out of sight and out of mind.
While it remains to be seen what kind of head coach Kerr will be, it seems like he’s off to a good start building his staff.
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