Months after being unceremoniously dumped by the Cleveland Cavaliers despite leading them to the NBA’s final, Israeli-American basketball coach David Blatt is being named as a possible candidate to take the helm of the lackluster New York Knicks.
Unnamed league sources say team president Phil Jackson is considering Blatt as a secondary option after current interim head coach Kurt Rambis, ESPN reported late Monday.
The sources say Jackson views Blatt “favorably” though Rambis, the team’s third coach in as many years, is thought to be the top candidate, according to the report.
The Knicks are set to wrap up their third straight losing season Tuesday and are looking to rebuild around star small forward Carmelo Anthony.
Even if Blatt doesn’t get picked by the Knicks, he may still end up in the Big Apple.
Blatt is reportedly also in the running for the head coach job with the Brooklyn Nets, owned by Russian businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, who knows Blatt from his days coaching in Moscow, according to The New York Post.
“He’d fit pretty good for this team, especially if like everybody says we try and build a new team and have young pieces,’’ Nets guard Sergey Karasev, who played under Blatt in Russia, told the paper. “So he’d be a perfect fit over here.’’
The Cavs fired Blatt in January in a surprise move, despite taking the team to the NBA championship, where they fell short against the Golden State Warriors.
The sacking came after months of rumors that Blatt and his Princeton offensive scheme had clashed with Cavs star LeBron James, who had resisted marching to Blatt’s tune, sometimes publicly.
The firing was met with surprise and dismay in Israel, which regarded Blatt as one of the country’s own. During the Cavs playoff run in 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had phoned Blatt to tell him the country was behind him.
Born and raised in the US, Blatt made a name for himself coaching in Europe and Israel, where he led Maccabi Tel Aviv to a Euroleague championship in 2014. He also coached Russia’s national team to a Bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics.
The Cavs, who replaced Blatt with assistant coach Tyrone Lue, are set to begin the playoffs this weekend with the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.