Cavs net Jewish GM amid off-season from hell
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Cavs net Jewish GM amid off-season from hell

Koby Altman, who has served as interim general manager during front office shakeup, tasked with keeping Cleveland basketball team championship contenders

New Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman talks during a press conference at the Cavaliers training facility in Independence, Ohio, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (AP/Phil Long)
New Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman talks during a press conference at the Cavaliers training facility in Independence, Ohio, Wednesday, July 26, 2017. (AP/Phil Long)

The team that brought you Maccabi Tel Aviv’s David Blatt as coach, led by a Jewish owner in Dan Gilbert, now has a Jewish general manager.

Koby Altman, 34, was named GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday after serving as an interim replacement for the past five weeks.

He may need some help from God — the only power greater than LeBron James — to keep the Cavs on the championship path, with one of their top players, Kyrie Irving, reportedly requesting a trade after the squad was vanquished by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals last month.

At a news conference with Gilbert, Altman noted the team’s “unprecedented success” over the past three seasons – consecutive appearances in the Finals and a title capping the 2015-16 campaign, the Cleveland Jewish News reported.

In this Nov. 2, 2015, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt pats LeBron James on the chest at the end of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez, File)
In this Nov. 2, 2015, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt pats LeBron James on the chest at the end of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez, File)

Blatt was the Cavs’ coach until he was dismissed in January with Cleveland holding the best record in the Eastern Conference. Assistant Tyronn Lue took over for the championship run and remains the head coach. The previous season, Blatt had guided the Cavaliers to the Finals – a losing effort to the Warriors.

Altman, a native of Brooklyn, New York, has been leading the front office since David Griffin left the organization after serving three years as general manager. He and the team could not reach an agreement on a contract extension.

“This is a promotion, and it’s an incredible promotion … but I’ve been here, I know this organization really well,” Altman said at the news conference, according to the Cleveland Jewish News. “This is going to be my sixth year here. I know the cast of characters very well. I’ve worked across all levels of this organization and I have deep relationships across all levels of this organization, and I know I can now lead this organization because of that.”

Regarding Irving, Gilbert said he heard about the request from media reports and did not confirm whether the All-Star performer had made the request. The Irving reports came after an off-season that has seen the team fail to significantly improve its personnel by picking up one of a number of free agents thought to be in its wheelhouse. Griffin’s departure has been partially blamed for the woes.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James celebrates after defeating the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Finals on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. (AFP/ Beck Diefenbach)
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James celebrates after defeating the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Finals on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California.
(AFP/ Beck Diefenbach)

Altman was promoted to assistant general manager last September from director of pro personnel. He had joined the Cavs in 2012 as pro personnel manager.

Previously, Altman served as an assistant coach at Columbia University in New York for two seasons and as a graduate assistant at Southern Illinois. He earned a master’s degree in sport management at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. While at UMass, he was a coach at nearby Amherst College for two seasons and helped guide the team to a 48-11 record.

Altman was a three-year starter at point guard for Middlebury College in Vermont.

He is the second Jewish GM in Cavs’ history: Harry Weltman held the post from 1982 to 1986. Under his direction, the Cavs made the playoffs for the first time in seven years, in 1984-85.

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