Darussafaka Istanbul coach David Blatt is still hopeful of returning to the NBA one day.
Blatt led the Cavaliers to the 2015 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors. He was dismissed from the role the following season despite leaving the team in good shape and leading the Eastern Conference.
Tyronn Lue took over the reigns after Blatt and captured the NBA title.
It’s that buzz of being on the NBA sidelines that entices Blatt, who spoke to Eurohoops at the Darussafaka media day, held at the same time as several NBA media days, including Cleveland’s.
Blatt though is keen to honour his two-year deal with the Istanbul-based side.
“Well, number one, I had a contract. I had a two-year contract and, obviously, last season was a really good season, I was very happy and the club was happy,” Blatt said.
“I had some decisions to make because the opportunity to compete in the EuroLeague went away, and I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do because I was given the option to stay or to go to another situation if I wanted to. The Dogus group was very fair with me about that.
“I had the opportunity to go back to Maccabi Tel Aviv or to go to Khimki Moscow and, ultimately, because of my desire not to commit long-term to anything beyond this coming season, I decided it would be best for me to stay here, and then after this season, reevaluate what I want to do with my career; whether I’m able to find an opportunity in the NBA next year, which was my goal, or whether I will again commit to a different kind of situation next season.
“So, this became a decision that I felt was best for me at this time. Now that I’ve made that decision I’m 100% invested and I’m happy to still be working here. I was happy here last season. I hope to be as happy again this season, despite the fact that this will not be a EuroLeague season as I originally anticipated and expected.”
The lure of the EuroCup is admittedly not as big a thrill as the EuroLeague, but it’s still something that Blatt will take seriously and see it as an aim to win this season, despite exits of many of its players, including Bradley Wanamaker.
“I think that’s very true, what you said,” Blatt said.
“Obviously the team is young and relatively inexperienced but we are also athletic and aggressive and fast and hungry and willing to learn, and those things can make up for some of the lack of experience that you correctly mentioned.
“We like the challenge we have in front of us and I believe that we still have a very quality group of people and players, and we will grow as the season progresses and, I think, still be a very good team.”