(Reuters) - The Cleveland Cavaliers announced David Blatt as their new coach on Friday, handing the 55-year-old a three-year contract to become the first head coach to make the switch from the Euroleague to the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Blatt, who resigned his post at Maccabi Tel Aviv last week, is the Cavs’ third coach in as many years, where he will be handed the task of leading them back into the playoffs after a four-year hiatus since the departure of LeBron James.
“David is a great basketball coach and a special person,” Cavaliers general manager David Griffin said of the Boston-born Blatt in a statement.
”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.
”He brings unbridled passion, energy and creativity to his craft. These qualities have enabled David to reach a level of success that is truly unique.
“I have watched David’s work for many years. 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 capped his 20-year career in Europe at Maccabi Tel Aviv, who were 54-18 this season, winning the Israel League, Israeli Cup and the Euroleague Championship.
During his six years as head coach (2001-03 and 2010-2014), Blatt led the team to six Israeli Cup Championships and five Israeli League Championships.
Blatt also spent six years as head coach of the Russian National Team, where during the 2012 London Olympics, he led Russia to the bronze medal, the only Russian basketball medal since the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Reporting by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien