The Cavaliers’ lengthy coaching search might finally be creeping toward a conclusion. The team was expected to welcome David Blatt for an interview Wednesday, the same day they were also scheduled to host Andrew Wiggins for a private workout.
Less than two weeks ago, after his phone interview with General Manager David Griffin, one source with direct knowledge of the Cavs’ coaching search downplayed Blatt as a candidate and insisted there wasn’t a front-runner in the search to replace Mike Brown.
Then Blatt made the surprising announcement last week he was stepping down as coach of Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv to pursue a job in the NBA. He is the third known candidate to receive a second interview, following two Los Angeles Clippers assistants, Alvin Gentry and Tyronn Lue.
The popular belief around the league is that Blatt will either land in Cleveland or on staff with the Golden State Warriors as an assistant to Steve Kerr — one of Griffin’s close contacts in the league.
Blatt, 55, was born in Massachusetts and played under Pete Carril at Princeton. He has spent the past 21 seasons coaching overseas, guiding Maccabi to Israel League and Euroleague championships this year. He departed as arguably the hottest coaching name in Europe and is regarded as one of the best offensive coaches around.
Wiggins is one of the three prized rookies in this draft. A year ago at this time, he was expected to be the first Canadian to go No. 1 overall in the NBA — then Anthony Bennett was a surprise choice for the Cavs last year and Wiggins’ stock dipped slightly during his freshman season at Kansas.
He is 6-foot-8, incredibly athletic and immediately fills a huge need for the Cavs at small forward — provided Luol Deng moves on in free agency. But it’s unclear how much LeBron James’ pending free agency could impact the Cavs’ decision at No. 1.
There are still people within the Cavs who believe they’ll be in the conversation this summer should James opt out of his contract, and the Heat’s loss in the NBA Finals this week will likely only strengthen that belief.
Wiggins, interestingly, hasn’t been connected to the Cavs as much as the other two top picks in this draft, Kansas teammate Joel Embiid and Duke’s Jabari Parker. Embiid is gaining traction as the top overall pick if his back is healthy, and Parker spent much of the season atop the Cavs’ draft board.
Wiggins is viewed as raw offensively despite averaging 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds at Kansas, but he has the instincts of a scorer and the potential to some day be a superstar.
Former Canton Charge coach Steve Hetzel officially joined the Charlotte Hornets’ coaching staff on Wednesday. Hetzel guided the Charge to the playoffs in his lone season as coach. He replaced Alex Jensen, who left for a job with the Utah Jazz prior to last season.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.