Blatt is definitely in the running because of his relationship with Mills, his former teammate at Princeton.
“Steve has tried to hire Blatt twice,” says one Knicks source. “He really likes him as a coach. The question is will Steve hire him now? If it’s Blatt, that’s Steve’s choice. I don’t know if he’d want to put himself out there.”
Despite reports about the Knicks having already interviewed him in Istanbul, coach Blatt clarified that this has not happened yet.
As he said to Anadolu Agency: “I haven’t met with NBA teams so far. I will meet some of the NBA teams in the near future, there are the New York Knicks rumors, but there may be other teams as well. I have nothing but Darussafaka in my heart in the rest of the season.”
The Knicks have conducted an international search and it’s been a blessed opportunity for Mills, who wasn’t allowed to embark on an earnest mission of intelligence under Jackson.
Phil Jackson had his eyes set on two coaches: Steve Kerr and Luke Walton, and then settled quickly on his back-ups. Otherwise, he wanted to hire his friend, Kurt Rambis. Current candidate, David Blatt, was the lone Steve Mills’ suggestion that made it to the interview stage.
In those two Zen Master coaching searches, Mills was restricted. After Jackson’s top choice Steve Kerr reneged, Jackson spoke only to Derek Fisher and made the hire.
On his next try, Jackson reached out to an uninterested Luke Walton. After his vision of Kurt Rambis was soundly rebuffed, Jackson interviewed Blatt. The former Cavaliers coach with a stunning European résumé was Mills’ pick.
Jackson also spoke to Frank Vogel, then Jeff Hornacek, whom he had never formally met. After a six-hour interview, Hornacek was the chosen one to run a partial triangle offense despite no triangle experience.
Who did Blatt coach this season?
Darussafaka is a professional basketball club based in Istanbul, Turkey. David Blatt led the club to their first EuroCup title, notable on its own, but even more so considering he needed to rebuild the roster with 1/3 of the previous season’s budget.
Darussafaka went 8-2 in the Eurocup regular season, 5-1 in the Top 16 and was unbeaten in the playoffs, cultivating in an upset sweep of the previously unbeaten Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar.
Interview with Blatt after the championship
David Blatt became only the second coach to win the EuroLeague and EuroCup.
A longer interview
David Blatt talks about his championship team, how they came together, and how an unproven group developed into winners.
Bookmark this page to see which teams are interested in the same candidates.
WHO HAS INTERVIEWED (WILL INTERVIEW) WHERE?
- Initially met with the Suns, but has withdrawn from consideration
- No other interviews scheduled
- Milwaukee Bucks (link)
- Charlotte Hornets (read more)
- Phoenix Suns (read more)
- Atlanta Hawks (read more)
- Orlando Magic (read more)
- Milwaukee Bucks (link)
WHICH CANDIDATES ONLY HAVE INTERVIEWS WITH THE KNICKS?
- Mark Jackson
- Mike Woodson
- Kenny Smith
- Juwan Howard
“He’s a winner and a teacher of solid basketball — be it NBA, Euroleague, Israeli league or the Russian national team in the Olympics,’’ said former Knicks European scout Tim Shea, an NBA consultant on overseas players. “KP [Kristaps Porzingis] and Frank Nitti [Ntilikina] need him as he is the most qualified to finally make international players that arrive in New York comfortable and productive. He’d be a godsend.”
It’s no big secret Porzingis didn’t gravitate toward recently fired Jeff Hornacek’s — or Kurt Rambis’ — coaching. Hornacek and Rambis were fired at Westchester County Airport after the Knicks returned from their season-finale win at Cleveland on April 11.
“I was in the NBA Finals,’’ Blatt told Haaretz. “I even have a [championship] ring, even though I wasn’t there in real time. I’m not lacking anything. What I am lacking is just personal satisfaction, realizing my potential and that of my players to the fullest.”
“I want to try to return to the NBA because I feel like I hadn’t realized my potential there, but even if it doesn’t happen, I will return to help my teams realize their potential, even if it’s the EuroLeague.”
The Israeli reporter reminded Blatt, a four-time Israeli League champion, of his warning before joining the Cavaliers that superstars run the show.
“It turns out that you were right,’’ Blatt told the reporter. “I don’t know if you were [going to be] right or not. Look. I learned a lot from that chapter in my life and I tried to make the best of it. That there are a lot of things to learn about the game, that it’s a different game [in the United States]. Almost everything is different.”
Zach Lowe did a Q&A with David Blatt shortly after Blatt was hired to be head coach of the Cavs. Here are a few of his responses in respect to his philosophy on offense and defense.
A modern NBA offense is never purely one thing. There are always elements of different philosophies, as coaches steal and adapt different ideas. Jeff Hornacek used elements of the Princeton offense, but not to the degree explained above. Remember, too, that the Princeton offense shares many ideas with the triangle offense.
BLATT: In the full Princeton, there are no plays. Well, there are plays, but there are not called plays. According to the movement of the ball, and the movement of the center, you’re gonna get into certain sets that you read according to how the defense plays you.
That’s the part of the Princeton offense you can see in my teams — the reading and the multi-option possibilities off of any play. The Princeton offense is something that takes a long time to develop. It requires a particular kind of player, and more than anything else, it requires the giving up on the part of all the players of almost everything they know.
But elements of the Princeton offense, in my mind — they are the right way to play.
From the Q&A below, I found it interesting that Blatt first says defense is the side of the floor where you adapt less, and then, a few questions later, in the same interview, talks about being an adaptive coach.
LOWE: What are your defensive principles?
BLATT: My teams have always been multifaceted and multitasking on defense — a lot of different looks, different kinds of presses, different matchups, matchup zones, trapping schemes. I don’t know that that’s gonna change all that much. Defense is the side of the floor where you adapt less and teach more.
LOWE: The NBA is a pick-and-roll league. More defenses like to drop back against that play, but there are still a few that attack it high on the floor. Which style do you prefer for this team?
BLATT: There are two schools of thought in coaching, and neither one is more right than the other. There are coaches that have their system, and they are gonna use that regardless of what the team makeup is. And there are coaches that are adaptive, and take their roster, and play according to their skill set.
I’m more from the adaptive school, with a few principles that are consistent throughout my career. But we have to see what the team looks like before I can tell you exactly how we’re gonna play.
Below are excerpts from David Blatt and the unraveling of his Cleveland tenure by Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin. This is as close to a definitive account of Blatt’s time in Cleveland as you can find. Both Windhorst and McMenamin are extremely clued-in to the Cavs affairs.
One of the main reasons Blatt struggled in Cleveland was because the players didn’t respect him for the resume he had built overseas.
ESPN: At the very heart of the matter, this is why the Cavs fired Blatt on Friday, despite a record of 83-40 and a Finals appearance. Blatt viewed himself as a coach with numerous championships in Europe, an Olympic medal and 20-plus years on the sideline, a career that made him one of the most experienced coaches in the world.
The Cavs players, especially the veterans, saw him as a rookie.
“Not all of you know me that well,” Blatt told the media, “but I’ve probably won over 700 games in my career.”
The situation Blatt had originally signed up for in Cleveland is much closer to the current situation in New York.
“David was hired to coach a developmental team and young players who would’ve wanted to please him,” one team source said. “He ended up coaching a finished product where the players expected him to please them.”
As Knicks fans recover from their team’s failure to institute the triangle offense using a top-down approach from executive leadership, David Blatt, as a coach, had difficulty getting the Cavs superstars to accept his Princeton-based offense.
ESPN: James changed his role in the Cavs’ offense and began playing point guard while moving Irving off the ball. In conjunction with the move, the Cavs, naturally, started moving away from the Princeton sets Blatt had installed during the preseason.
James nonchalantly told the media he didn’t consult Blatt on the changes: “No, I can do it on my own,” James said. “I’m past those days where I have to ask.”
Blatt was forced to become a different coach to try to win back a locker room that quickly aligned themselves with top assistant (and eventual head coach) Tyrone Lue.
ESPN: When Blatt was the coach of the Russian national team, he famously once kicked two of his best players off the bench because they were talking over him in a timeout. Now, spectators watched in awe as players barked at Blatt in timeouts. That was just one of many adjustments he made to try to make this unwieldy job work.
Knicks GM Scott Perry is planning to pair the European trip with a scouting side trip, sources said. The Perry-Blatt meeting will be telltale to Blatt’s candidacy. Blatt has a strong history and relationship with Knicks president Steve Mills, and Mills has been an advocate for Blatt to become the Knicks’ head coach when he worked with Phil Jackson and now Perry.
Nevertheless, Perry has no relationship with Blatt and would need to be convinced that they could work together — and that Blatt, 58, could be an asset in connecting with players and ultimately recruiting free agents to New York. Blatt’s credentials as a European coach are unmatched, and his season-plus with the Cavaliers included a 83-40 record and trip to the 2015 NBA Finals.