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Cavs to Interview Highly Sought-After Head Coach Candidate

New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach James Borrego

The Cleveland Cavaliers are working diligently behind the scenes as they look to fill their head coach vacancy. Indeed, they’re meeting with New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach James Borrego on Tuesday, per The Stein Line’s Marc Stein.

Borrego also remains part of the Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching search after UConn men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley declined their six-year, $70 million offer.

The Lakers were initially rumored to have prepared a nine-figure contract for Hurley. To paraphrase the great Marlon Brando, it’s an offer that he may not have been able to refuse. However, money is said to not have been the deciding factor in his desire to stay at UConn. Instead, it’s the opportunity to win his third straight NCAA championship. A feat that hasn’t been accomplished since John Wooden was coaching the UCLA Bruins, the trifecta would lift him into the ethereal realm of basketball immortality.

Cavs to Interview Highly Head Coach Candidate James Borrego

It appears that the 46-year-old Borrego has a lot of fans around the league. He undeniably underwhelmed in his stint as the Charlotte Hornets’ head coach. However, he’s well-regarded as a tactician, emphasizing fundamentals such as a pace, space, and movement. Borrego’s also seen as a player’s coach, a superlative denoting his strengths as a communicator.

Yet, he’s usually coached poor defensive teams, has been questioned as an in-game manager, and may be too rigid to truly develop young talent. To ignore those faults —the ones that led him to be effectively demoted —would be foolhardy. That’s especially true for the Cavs, who have made several head coach hires that backfired with David Blatt, John Beilein, and JB Bickerstaff. Indeed, Borrego has as much of a chance to lose games and the locker room as that trio.

That said, Cleveland’s starting big men —Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen —are defensive studs. This goes a long way towards the Cavs having more defensive success than they otherwise might have under Borrego. That isn’t to say a product of Gregg Popovich’s coaching tree doesn’t understand how to run an effective defense. However, Borrego failed to instill the appropriate level of defensive discipline in his players in Charlotte.

In Cleveland, he may not have to. Not only do Mobley and Allen take pride in their defense, but Bickerstaff pushed Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland to as well. If the Cavs don’t have to worry about the defense, it’s one less obstacle they’ll have to worry about if Borrego is leading them on a path to the NBA Finals.


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