Maybe Plan B was meant to be.
Back in June, Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and Brett Dawson reported, "Before finalizing a contract extension with the University of Kentucky late last week, John Calipari had gone deep in discussions with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a seven-year, $60 million-plus contract to become president and coach, sources told Yahoo Sports."
While Calipari wasn't interested in leaving Kentucky, he has nothing but rave reviews for the guy Cleveland later hired. He shared his praise for Blatt on SiriusXM NBA Radio, per Northeast Ohio Media Group's Chris Fedor:
David Blatt can really coach. He's a better choice than me to coach that team. I coached against him. I'm not sitting here just saying it. I coached against him in FIBA basketball. I watched him coach Russia, the guy can coach, OK? Those players, all they want is respect. If they respect you as a coach they're going to play like crazy."
There may be something of an adjustment period for the Cavs, but the club's new look all but guarantees big things.
LeBron James first announced he'd be returning to Cleveland after competing in the NBA Finals four straight times with the Miami Heat. And now, the Cavaliers are reportedly on the brink of trading first-overall picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett (along with a first-round draft pick) to the Minnesota Timberwolves for disaffected star forward Kevin Love.
"It's not going to happen in a month, just like Miami," Calipari added, per Fedor. "It'll be similar to that but they got an outstanding coach, they got the best coach they could get for where they are and what they're trying to do."
Though this is Blatt's first stint in the NBA, his highly-regarded international career made him an intriguing option for the organization.
As Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum notes, "Many things about Blatt appealed to [general manager David] Griffin, beyond the obvious coaching acumen that had produced championships in so many places as well as a bronze medal with Russia at the 2012 London Olympics."
Blatt's adjustment to the NBA shouldn't be too difficult. He's quickly surrounded himself with capable help, including associate head coach Tyronn Lue and assistants Larry Drew, Jim Boylan, Bret Brielmaier and James Posey.
Blatt will also have unparalleled leadership on the floor thanks to James' larger-than-life presence.
During a Q&A with fans, per Basketball Insiders' David Pick, Blatt said:
I believe anyone in my profession would gladly trade places with me to have the opportunity to coach LeBron. Having LeBron on our side is a huge advantage over other teams, but you have to know how to help him and utilize his talents the best way possible so that we maximize the potential of our team.
Indeed, Blatt still has a job to do. He just has plenty of resources with which to do it.
In addition to the acquisitions of James and Love, Cleveland boasts a young core of in-house talent including Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. Much of Blatt's task will revolve around preparing those up-and-comers to complement the new star power.
After Cleveland spent the last four seasons rebuilding, actually pursuing a title will feel a little bit different—in a good way, to be sure.
Meanwhile, Calipari—who's been at Kentucky since 2009—appears satisfied with his current gig, as he explained to The Courier-Journal's Kyle Tucker:
Now, obviously coaching at Kentucky is special. It is unique and special. But this, for me, becomes about these kids. I have no desire, nor am I out looking for (jobs). I got the job. I got the job. What would move me to stay was these kids need me here. ... It wasn't money.
Given how much money the Cavaliers were reportedly waiving around, we can probably take Calipari's word for that.
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