Cavaliers coaching search: Cleveland to interview Kenny Atkinson, James Borrego among others


The Cleveland Cavaliers are building a roster of coaching candidates after firing J.B. Bickerstaff following the team’s second round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics. Cleveland has received permission to interview Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, and Pelicans assistant James Borrego, per ESPN. Atkinson and Borrego both have previous head coaching experience, something that appeals to the Cavaliers in their coaching search.

Atkinson most recently severed as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets from 2016-2020, and has since been an assistant with the Clippers for one season and the Warriors for the past three years. During Atkinson’s tenure with the Nets, he compiled a 118-190 record, with one postseason appearance. Atkinson helped turn a Brooklyn team around that struggled for years to build an identity, and took a Caris LeVert and D’Angelo Russell-led team to what was, at the time, the team’s first postseason appearance in four years. He’s been considered for other head coaching jobs in the past. Most recently, he was set to become the Charlotte Hornets head coach ahead of the 2022-23 season, but ultimately decided to remain the top assistant in Golden State.

Borrego is another former head coach who has received interest from other teams, most notably the Lakers, who have conducted an interview with the former Hornets coach. Borrego spent four seasons as the Hornets head coach, where he amassed a 148-183 record, and led Charlotte to its first winning season in six years. He’s since been with the Pelicans as an assistant coach, but has been a serious candidate for the Lakers’ head coaching job. 

Other candidates the Cavaliers have received permission to interview are Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant and Heat assistant Chris Quinn, per ESPN. Bryant started his coaching career as an assistant with the Jazz under Quin Snyder from 2014-2020. He then became the associate head coach of the Knicks, where he’s been for the past four years. Quinn has been an assistant coach under Erik Spoelstra since 2014, after a six-year NBA career. He’s also received interest from the Lakers for their coaching vacancy, and now it appears the Cavaliers are interested, too.

Whoever does take over the Cavaliers job, there will be high expectations to succeed immediately. By firing Bickerstaff, the Cavaliers clearly sent a message that they aren’t content with just making the playoffs, and with rumors about Donovan Mitchell requesting a trade floating before he can opt out of his player option in the summer of 2025, there will certainly be some pressure on the next coach to deliver results quickly. 





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