Hawks assistant Spahija named head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv

Hawks assistant coach Neven Spahija, who was a childhood friend of Drazen Petrovic and retrieved his body, is seen before the Hawks play the Celtics in an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in Atlanta. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM
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Hawks assistant coach Neven Spahija, who was a childhood friend of Drazen Petrovic and retrieved his body, is seen before the Hawks play the Celtics in an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in Atlanta. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Hawks assistant coach Neven Spahija has been named head basketball coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv and will return overseas to continue his career.

Spahija’s agent, Danko Drakulic, posted on Twitter that a contract had been signed. David Pick reported that the deal runs through 2020 with the team in Israel. Spahija indicated such a deal probable earlier this week.

Spahija, from Croatia, joined the Hawks in 2014 and just finished his third season on the staff of head coach Mike Budenholzer. He coached for over 30 seasons before joining the Hawks and won domestic league titles in six countries – Slovenia, Croatia, Lithuania, Spain, Israel and Turkey. Spahija was also the coach of the Croatian National Team from 2001-05. Spahija coached Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2006-07.

“Neven has been a valued part of our coaching staff the last three years, and a good friend and mentor for many years,” Budenholzer said in a statement. “His knowledge, experience and perspective have been important parts of our success as a group, and I’m appreciative for all of his contributions to the Hawks. At the same time, I’m very excited for him to return to Maccabi for this great opportunity and wish him the best.”

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