Not many coaches with a .678 winning percentage get fired, but David Blatt found out the hard way that there are certain expectations for a LeBron James-led team.
Blatt, who was fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers after just one-and-a-half seasons on the job, wants another shot at the NBA because he feels he still has unfinished business, per Irad Tsafrir of Haaretz.com:
"I was in the NBA finals. 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. Okay? That's about it for me, man."
Blatt was hired by Cleveland in the summer of 2014 in the month before James announced he would return home. The job he signed up for and the job he wound up having were completely different, as expectations skyrocketed with the addition of the four-time NBA MVP.
It was championship or bust...and unfortunately for Blatt, it was bust.
Blatt went 83-40 in his one-plus season as coach, leading the Cavaliers to their second-ever NBA Finals appearance. However, injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love significantly hurt their championship hopes, as they would lose to the Golden State Warriors in six games in 2015.
He was fired midseason in 2015-16 despite having the Eastern Conference's best record. Tyronn Lue would take over and lead the Cavaliers to their first championship that same season.
Now, the 58-year-old Blatt hopes he will get another opportunity.
"The end game has not changed,” Blatt told the Jerusalem Post's Allon Sinai earlier this week. "I want people to know that my decision last year was based on this exact scenario. That at the end of this season there would be NBA openings, that is now the case, and that I would try to see if I can get back into the league. If it happens, then I will be very happy and if it doesn’t happen then I’ll return to the European option."
He has coached Turkish club Darussafaka since 2016, and according to Sinai, the ex-Cavs leader turned down a long-term offer overseas last summer because he has his sights set on the NBA.
The two-time Eastern Conference Coach of the Month has been linked to the New York Knicks' coaching vacancy recently. The Charlotte Hornets, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns all have openings as well.