Created on Saturday, 14 June 2014 Written by TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — More than one month after firing Mike Brown, the Cavaliers still haven't found his replacement.
However, they could be close.
The team had second interviews with Los Angeles Clippers associate head coach Alvin Gentry and assistant Tyronn Lue on Friday, meetings that were expected to include Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Gentry and Lue are among at least a dozen candidates contacted by the club since Brown was fired on May 12 following a 33-49 season, ending his second stint with the club.
While Gentry and Lue appear to be the co-favorites to become Cleveland's coach in three years, neither of them has been offered the job and the Cavs' search will extend into next week.
Cleveland has scheduled an interview with former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt, who announced Thursday he was resigning from his job with the European champion to take a coaching job in the NBA. Blatt did not specify which team he was joining, but said he has not been offered the Cavs' position. Blatt also has been approached by Golden State to be an assistant under new coach Steve Kerr.
The 55-year-old Blatt was first contacted by the Cavs last week, but he has known new Cleveland general manager David Griffin for several years. Blatt is considered an offensive mastermind, and he's been on the radar of several NBA teams. He acknowledged his interest in returning to the U.S. — he was born in Massachusetts and played at Princeton — while leading Russia to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Blatt said he was leaving Maccabi to "follow my dream." He led the club to a stunning upset over Real Madrid in the European Championships, a victory that touched off massive celebrations in Israel. If the Cavs decide to hire him, Cleveland fans would probably not have the same reaction because Blatt is unknown outside hoops circles and he'd be an unconventional choice.
Earlier this week, the team met with Charlotte assistant Mark Price, a four-time All-Star point guard in Cleveland who remains one of the most beloved players in franchise history. Former Memphis coach Lionel Hollins, Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, former Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro also had interviews with the club, but it's not known if any of them will get a second look.
Gilbert and Griffin understand the importance of landing the right coach as the Cavaliers enter a significant summer.
The club owns the No. 1 overall pick in this month's draft and the Cavs are in the process of evaluating the top college prospects. Kansas center Joel Embiid visited Cleveland earlier this week and the Cavs gave him a thorough medical exam and worked out the 7-footer. Jayhawks forward Andrew Wiggins and Duke forward Jabari Parker are scheduled to meet with the Cavs next week.
Embiid has been touted as a franchise-changing player, but there are medical concerns about the 18-year-old, who only started playing basketball a few years ago in his native Cameroon. He missed the NCAA tournament last season with a stress fracture in his lower back, and the Cavs wanted to make sure he's healthy before they considered taking him.
The Cavs are not confirming player visits until the day they take place.
And while they juggle the coaching search and various options with the top pick, including a trade, the Cavs must also decide whether to offer All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving a maximum, five-year contract extension next month. Irving has given mixed signals about his commitment to Cleveland, and it certainly hasn't helped that the Cavs have been in disarray since he arrived.
The team was expected to get to the playoffs last season under Brown, who was fired for the first time four years ago by Gilbert. Maybe the next coach can not only inspire Irving, but get the Cavs back on track.
First, though, they've got to find him.