David Blatt, who was fired this NBA season by the Cleveland Cavaliers, has come to terms with Turkish team Darüşşafaka Doğuş and is set to be signed as its head coach.
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Some European teams approached Blatt, including Maccabi Tel Aviv, which he led to a European Cup, but he apparently has chosen a surprising destination. Darüşşafaka is a rising power in European basketball, and received a wild card to next year's sized-down Euroleague, mainly because its owner is one of the league sponsors. The Turkish league is no stranger is Blatt, who coached Efes Pilsen nine years ago. Efes, now known as Anadolu Efes, fired him toward the end of the 2007-08 season.
Blatt probably could have secured an assistant coach position with an NBA team, but he preferred to remain at the helm with a team with a big budget that would give him a free hand in choosing players. Maccabi Tel Aviv has almost finished building its roster for next season.
“I’m going to coach next year," Blatt told USA Today earlier in May. "I’m not going to sit out. It’s not in my nature. I want to work,” he said. “I’ll be back somewhere. Could be anywhere.”
Blatt also told USA today that the coach has a much larger role "as far as impact and persona" in Europe. “It’s much more of a coaches’ show," he said. "In the NBA, it’s a players’ show.”
Darüşşafaka is a veteran team in European basketball. Founded in 1951, it participated in the early years of the European Champions Cup. In the 1990s, with the rise of Efes Pilsen and Fenerbahce Ulker, it lost its shine and even was demoted to the second league. Everything changed three years ago when Dogus Holding, the Turkish conglomerate that holds 25 countries, took the club under its wings. Darüşşafaka was promoted to the top-tier Super Basketball League, finished third place in the regular season. Despite losing in the quarterfinals, the Euroleague grasped its economic potential and gave it a wild card for the 2015-16 season.
Darüşşafaka split with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Group D competition but advanced to the Top 16 on point differential after the two teams both finished the group stage 4-6. The team finished fourth in the Turkish league but was swept by Anadolu Efes in the semifinal. The Euroleague has given the team, which plays at a 5,300-seat arena, another wild card for next season.