Former coach David Blatt shows support for Tyronn Lue, Cavaliers

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Sunday, May 22, 2016

TORONTO -- Former Cavalierscoach David Blatt holds no ill will toward his former team. In fact, he believes Cleveland is the favorite to win the NBA championship this season.

"I think they're playing great," Blatt told on Saturday, shortly before theToronto Raptorsbeat the Cavs99-84 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals."I think that the players and the coaching staff are doing a terrific job, I really do. And I think the fact that they are healthy and have actually even added a piece or two makes them the team to beat right now, in my opinion. That's really all I want to say."

Current Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue told ESPN that he spoke to Blatt on the phone Saturday afternoon.

In what can best be described as awkward timing, Blatt was in Toronto Saturday to appear as a guest speaker at the National Coaching Certificate Program (NCCP) Super Clinic, while his former team was in town to play the Raptors.

"It's kind of ironic that it fell on the same day that the series is being played, but I committed to this a little while ago," Blatt told "A couple of months ago."

Indeed, Blatt's inclusion in the event was announced by Canada Basketball with a news release April 12, the day before the NBA regular season ended.

It is the second time Blatt has crossed paths with the Cavs during their playoff run. While the team was in Atlanta for the second round, he touched base with his replacement, Lue, and met with Cavs player development coach Phil Handy.

"I'm very supportive of Ty, as I am of all of the coaching staff," Blatt told "I had a great relationship with those guys, and I value them, and I want to see them all do well."

Blatt, who was being billed as an "international coach and technical expert" by the clinic organizers, spoke about in-game adjustments and preparing NBA and international players. The clinic was held at Ryerson University, just about a mile away from the Air Canada Centre, where the Cavs and Raptors tipped off at 8:30 p.m.

Blatt has interviewed with the New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets for their head-coaching vacancies in recent weeks.

He coached the Cavs to within two wins of the NBA title in June 2015, despite injuries that causedKevin Love and Kyrie Irvingto be sidelined as the Golden State Warriors captured the championship.