Imported: Cavaliers hire David Blatt as head coach

TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer Published:

CLEVELAND (AP) -- David Blatt went overseas to chase his basketball dreams. He's coming back to fulfill them.

One of Europe's top coaches, Blatt was hired Friday by the Cavaliers, who ended a sweeping, 39-day search with an out-of-the-box selection they hope changes their fortunes.

American-born, Princeton-schooled and considered one of the game's brightest offensive minds, the 55-year-old Blatt has long been interested in coaching in the NBA and the Cavs will give him his first shot.

The club signed him to a three-year deal that includes a team option for a fourth year and could be worth $20 million. Cleveland contacted high-profile college coaches and interviewed both retreaded head coaches and on-the-rise assistants before zeroing in and landing Blatt, who won several European titles while coaching in Israel and guided Russia to a bronze medal at the London Olympics two years ago.

"David Blatt is going to bring some of the most innovative approaches found in professional basketball anywhere on the globe," Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said. "Time and time again, from Russia to Israel and several other prominent head coaching jobs in between, David has done one thing: 'win'. He is not only an innovator, well-trained and focused on both sides of the court, but he is always learning and always teaching."

Blatt will be introduced by the team Wednesday, one day before the club picks first in this year's NBA draft.

Cleveland's third coach in three years, Blatt replaces Mike Brown, who was fired -- for the second time -- on May 12, a few weeks after the Cavs finished 33-49 and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Blatt was not believed to be on Cleveland's radar early in its search, but that changed when he resigned at Maccabi Tel Aviv to pursue an NBA gig.

"I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to come to Cleveland and lead the Cavaliers as their head coach," Blatt said. "We are going to work extremely hard to achieve the kind of results we all expect and know are possible."

Blatt also was coveted as an assistant by Golden State and Minnesota, but the Cavs made him the first European coach to make the jump to the NBA.

• Golf

Tiger to return: Feeling rusty but ready to play again, Tiger Woods said he would return to competition next week at Congressional in the Quicken Loans National.

Woods, who made the announcement on his Facebook page, last played on March 9 at Doral, where he dealt with pain in his lower back and closed with a 78 for his highest final-round score on the PGA Tour. He had back surgery March 31, forcing him to miss the Masters for the first time. He also missed the U.S. Open last week at Pinehurst No. 2.

Lehman goes bogey-free: Tom Lehman opened a three-stroke lead in the Champions Tour's Encompass Championship, shooting a bogey-free 6-under 66 before play was suspended because of a thunderstorm.

Lehman had a 13-under 131 total at North Shore Country Club, playing the first 36 holes without a bogey. The 55-year-old Minnesotan won the last of his seven senior titles in 2012.

Ilonen holds narrow lead: Finland's Mikko Ilonen birdied the final hole for a 2-under 69 and a one-stroke lead after the third round of the Irish Open.

Ilonen had a 12-under 201 total at Fota Island.

England's Danny Willett shot a course-record 8-under 63, making a hole-in-one on the seventh, to move into second place. Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell was 10 under after a 69.

• Elsewhere

Vizquel honored by Tribe: Omar Vizquel was inducted into the Cleveland Indians' Hall of Fame before Saturday night's game against Detroit in front of a sellout crowd.

The 11-time Gold Glove shortstop, who thrilled fans with his dazzling play at shortstop for the Indians from 1994-2004, was a cornerstone of the teams that won five straight AL Central titles and appeared in the World Series twice.

Hope Solo arrested: Police say U.S. women's soccer star Hope Solo has been arrested at a suburban Seattle home for assaulting her sister and nephew.

Officers say they responded just before 1 a.m. Saturday, after receiving a 911 call that a woman at the Kirkland residence was hitting people. Police say they found Solo intoxicated and upset, and they saw injuries on her 17-year-old nephew and her sister.

Rangers buy out Richards: The Rangers bought out the contract of veteran forward Brad Richards, creating much-needed salary-cap space and parting ways with New York's de facto captain one week after the club was eliminated from the Stanley Cup finals.

The 34-year-old Richards had six years remaining on the nine-year, $60 million deal he signed in 2011, and this move will remove his $6.67 million salary-cap charge. He will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Gwynn service held: A private memorial service for Tony Gwynn was held on Saturday at San Diego State.

Gwynn, who played for the Padres during his 20-year Hall of Fame career, died on Monday after battling cancer. He was 54.

Among the pall bearers for Gwynn was Padres manager Bud Black, a former teammate of Gwynn's at San Diego State.

Portugal match could set records: With interest up in the World Cup, the United States match against Portugal on Sunday is poised to take a run at viewership records for soccer in the United States.

The 19.7 million people who saw the U.S. team get knocked out by Ghana four years ago is the biggest audience for a game involving the U.S. team. The best for any game was the 2010 championship between Spain and the Netherlands, seen by 24.7 million.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.