Cleveland Cavaliers

Even John Calipari Thinks David Blatt Is Perfect Choice as Cleveland Cavs Coach

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 11: David Blatt, Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Samsung NBA Summer League 2014 on July 11, 2014 at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2014

Maybe Plan B was meant to be.

The Cleveland Cavaliers originally wanted a star from the college ranks to take the coaching reins in the wake of Mike Brown's dismissal.

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."

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 07:  Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats motions to his players during the NCAA Men's Final Four Championship against the Connecticut Huskies at AT&T Stadium on April 7, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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.

Drew has previous head-coaching experience with the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks. Boylan has served as interim head coach for the Chicago Bulls and the Bucks.

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 PickBlatt 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.

INDEPENDENCE, OH - JUNE 25:  David Blatt addresses the media as he is named Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers at a press conference at The Cleveland Clinic Courts on June 25, 2014 in Independence, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and ag
David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

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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