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Israeli League’s Blatt Becomes Coach of NBA Cleveland Cavaliers

Incoming Cleveland Cavaliers Coach David Blatt
David Blatt, former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach, announces that he is leaving the club for the NBA during a press conference in Tel Aviv, on June 12, 2014. Blatt will be the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Photographer: Jack Guez /AFP/Getty Images

David Blatt, who has coached in Israel, Greece, Russia and Turkey but never in the National Basketball Association, will be the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers -- who hold the No. 1 pick in next week’s NBA Draft.

Blatt, 55, a Boston native who played point guard at Princeton University, spent the past four years as coach of Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv, which won the Euroleague championship this past season.

He also spent six years as coach of the Russian national team, leading the Russians to the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

“He has an uncanny ability to adapt his system to maximize the talents of his teams year after year,” Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin said in a team news release. “That is why I am very confident he will make a smooth transition to the NBA.”

Blatt played professionally in Europe from 1981-93, mostly in the Israeli League. He has been coaching for 20 years.

The Cavaliers, who have had the No. 1 overall pick in the draft in three of the past four years, went 33-49 last season to finish 10th in the Eastern Conference.

“I feel strongly about my fit for the job and this team’s potential,” Blatt said in the team release. “This is an opportune time to join the Cleveland Cavaliers. We are going to work extremely hard to achieve the kind of results we all expect and know are possible.”

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