Two months removed from completing a triple-crown winning season — Israeli League Championship, Israeli State Cup and Euroleague title – U.S. born head coach David Blatt has hit a grand slam.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, Blatt’s first-ever NBA team, have locked up Kyrie Irving, re-signed LeBron James, added ring-holder Shawn Marion and are close to completing a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves for stretch big man Kevin Love.
Behind a successful sideline debut at the Las Vegas Summer League, Blatt returned to Israel, his home-away-from-home, to shoot an endorsement campaign for Dove skincare products.
In between takes, Blatt took time for a unique Q&A to respond to a wide selection of Cavs fans’ Twitter questions.
Mike Cline (@BrownsBucksFan): Do you feel like you just won the lottery?
Blatt: “Won the lottery? Without question the Cleveland team that I signed on to, compared to the Cleveland team of today, is different. [General Manager] David Griffin has done a fabulous job building the team and the ownership of Cleveland has proven their complete commitment to the state of Ohio and to the Cavaliers in terms of building a quality organization with a chance to achieve the maximum. I’m very lucky to be a part of that.”
Patrick Gallagher (@Gallagator12): Hardest transition between Euro-and-NBA basketball?
Blatt: “Probably the schedule. Playing multiple games the same week with very few practices, and having a different recovery process, is unknown territory. The good thing is, in comparison to Israel, trips are shorter and much smoother in the U.S. The weather is another adjustment because Cleveland definitely doesn’t have the heat and humidity that Israel has. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about coaching basketball.”
Baltimore Bones (@latripleB): Will Kyrie Irving play as PG or SG?
Blatt: “Kyrie is a point guard who is multifaceted, extremely skilled and still very much on the upswing as a great basketball player.”
Neil Losordo (@cavs_fan2): What’s the plan for Dion [Waiters], have him as starter or an instant offense guy off the bench?
Blatt: “Dion is a lot of things to this team. I’ve never seen any particular importance to the emphasis of starting or not, I see an emphasis on playing and helping the team win. That’s not to say he will or won’t start, that’s not the point. I think his and every player’s motto and desire needs to be to help the team win. That’s what’s important.”
Jason Wells (@alphazepp): How do you plan to manage LeBron’s minutes?
Blatt: “I believe anyone in my profession would gladly trade places with me to have the opportunity to coach LeBron. Having LeBron on our side is a huge advantage over other teams, but you have to know how to help him and utilize his talents the best way possible so that we maximize the potential of our team. Throughout my career, I have coached many great players; I know when to be tough and when to be somewhat softer.”
Rashad (@RJJ954): Tell them to keep Andrew Wiggins.
Blatt: “I had the opportunity to work with Andrew Wiggins this summer and he’s a kid I love and respect. As far as what’s coming down the line, I really can’t talk about it right now.”
Stefan (@AAndjelic): Do you plan on playing small lineups with LeBron at the four?
Blatt: “Throughout my career, I have used many ‘small ball’ lineups, and of course that tactic is becoming more and more popular throughout the world — in the United States as well. If that’s what it takes to win, that’s what we’ll do.”
Logan Pysher (@turntupGEE): How do you plan on fixing rim protection problems? / MD(@mddela): Lots of good forwards, but no one true center. Who will Cleveland play at the five?
Blatt: “Right now, we’re hoping Brendan Haywood is going to make progress coming back from his foot injury, and if he does that’ll be a big plus for our team. As far as other roster decisions, our team is in the best of hands with David Griffin.”
Neely (@kNeely): I’m curious what, if any interaction you had with Romeo Travis (one of LeBron’s “Fab Five” in high school, All-Star Israeli League).
Blatt: “I know Romeo. I have not talked to him since I’ve been in Cleveland, but I do hope to get a chance to speak to him because I know him well, I’ve coached against him, and he’s a good guy.”
Jeremy Sexton (@JeremySexton88): How much sleep have you lost thinking about versatility of lineups you can run?
Blatt: “I don’t sleep a lot to begin with so I don’t know how much sleep there is left for me to lose. We do have a lot of possibilities and obviously a lot of talented guys we can put on the floor and it’s my job to figure that piece out.”
Has Blatt envisioned a post-season visit to the White House?
Blatt: “I don’t like the idea of putting the cart before the horse. We got a long way to go before we can even consider those things.”
Will Kevin Love be a Cavalier?
Blatt: “I can’t say anything about the Kevin Love situation as you well know.”
David Pick has extensively covered European basketball and American players abroad since 2010. His work can be found at Eurobasket.com and ONE.co.il. Follow him on Twitter at @IAmDPick.