August 21, 2014

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Cavs focus narrows on coach possibilities while draft pick now up in the air

David Blatt

David Blatt

One big question could be on the verge of being answered by the Cavaliers, but an even bigger one popped up Thursday.

David Blatt emerged as the clear frontrunner to succeed Mike Brown as head coach, with some reports calling his hiring “imminent.” The Cavs have made no announcement.

Meanwhile, just when it seemed the Cavs had settled on taking Joel Embiid with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, the 7-foot, 240-pound Kansas center suffered a stress fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot and will have surgery Friday.

The navicular bone is located on the inside of the foot. Typical recovery time from surgery is four to six months, but the injury can be career-threatening. Houston Rockets center Yao Ming retired because of the injury, while it took years for former Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas to get fully healthy.

Given the seriousness of the injury, it’s possible the 19-year-old Embiid might not go in the top three picks in the draft, with Cleveland likely to choose between Kansas shooting guard Andrew Wiggins and Duke small forward Jabari Parker at No. 1.

The 55-year-old Blatt, who previously spoke via phone with general manager David Griffin and formally interviewed for the job Wednesday, would be the Cavs’ third head coach in as many seasons. Brown was fired May 12.

Ironically, reports surfaced earlier Thursday that Blatt’s closest advisers had told him to accept an assistant coaching position with Golden State rather than take Cleveland’s head coaching job.

Blatt spent 21 years coaching overseas, but resigned as Maccabi Tel Aviv coach last week to pursue his dream of coaching in the NBA. He led Maccabi to Israel League and Euroleague championships in 2013-14.

Blatt, who was born in the Boston area and played for the legendary Pete Carril at Princeton, appears to be Cleveland’s top choice, with Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue looking like the team’s second option.

If Blatt gets the job, he will be the Cavs’ third head coach in three seasons. Brown was fired in 2010 after five years on the job, with Byron Scott coaching the team the next three seasons. Brown was then rehired prior to last season, only to be fired after one year.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.

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