Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Cavaliers have hired David Blatt as their new coach, saying Friday night the longtime European coach's international experience speaks for itself.
Blatt, 55, resigned as the coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel last week and has spent 33 years as a player and coach in Europe after playing collegiately at Princeton.
He takes over a team that will have the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft for the second straight year and for the third time in the last four years. The draft is next Thursday.
"This is an opportune time to join the Cleveland Cavaliers," Blatt said in a statement. "We are going to work extremely hard to achieve the kind of results we all expect and know are possible."
He guided Maccabi Tel Aviv to this year's Euroleague championship and also led Russia to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Blatt spent six years as head coach of the Russian national team.
"His abilities to communicate, to build relationships with his players and to foster winning environments at several stops throughout Europe and across the highest levels of international competition speaks for itself," said Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, who said he had followed Blatt for years.
"He brings unbridled passion, energy and creativity to his craft. ... He has an uncanny ability to adapt his system to maximize the talents of his teams year after year. That is why I am very confident he will make a smooth transition to the NBA."
Blatt was one of numerous candidates interviewed by the Cavaliers to replace Mike Brown.
Brown, who previously served as the Cavaliers coach for five seasons from 2005-10, went just 33-49 in his return to the organization last season and was fired last month on the same day Griffin took over as general manager.
Other reported finalists for the coaching job included Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and former Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry.