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Cavs Whittling Down Field of Head Coach Candidates

Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman and former head coach JB Bickerstaff

The Cleveland Cavaliers are whittling down their field of head coach candidates. After beginning with “what was once around 10,” they’re now down “to a group of four or five finalists who are set for in-person meetings,” per’s Chris Fedor.

Cavs Whittling Down Field of Head Coach Candidates

New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach James Borrego “has been viewed as the ‘leader in the clubhouse’ since late last week.” The 46-year-old had a meeting with the Cavs on Tuesday.

James Borrego

All indications are that Borrego’s the guy Cleveland wants for the job, with the franchise relying on their network of former Cavs employees and players during their vetting process. To that point, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations, another former Cavs executive, and former Cavs forward-center Larry Nance Jr. are among those to “have spoken positively about Borrego.” He’s described as “humble, innovative, engaging and diplomatic” and “willing to learn and listen.” With that said, his intangibles have sparkled under the spotlight.

Kenny Atkinson

Golden State assistant coach Kenny Atkinson “is also expected to sit down with the Cavaliers this week, likely Wednesday or Thursday.”

Considered the early frontrunner for their head coaching vacancy, the Cavs “will have a more in-depth conversation about his plan to help the franchise advance forward…” With that said, he’s a serious candidate for the gig. Regarded as a culture-builder in his time with the Brooklyn Nets, it’s worth noting that he wasn’t fired because of performance. Instead, he and the Nets parted ways because he and a younger, less mature version of Irving weren’t seeing eye-to-eye.

An analytics truther who has learned under Steve Kerr, Mike D’Antoni, and Mike Budenholzer, he should be able to improve the Cavs’ offense by quickening the pace.

Who Are the Other Finalists?

Two finalists known, but there are two or three who aren’t. Still, there are clues to their identity.

Last week, Cleveland received permission to interview several assistants. Among them, two may have already met with at least two teams.

David Adelman

Denver Nuggets assistant David Adelman has interviewed for the Charlotte Hornets’ and Los Angeles Lakers’ head coaching vacancies. The son of Hall of Fame head coach Rick Adelman, his experience with Denver makes him an intriguing choice. The Cavs don’t have a Nikola Jokic on their team. However, he could bring the best out of 2021 No. 3 pick Evan Mobley.

Chris Quinn

Miami Heat lead assistant Chris Quinn may have been considered by the Hornets before they hired Boston Celtics lead assistant Charles Lee. However, he’s known to have interviews for L.A.’s vacancy too. Frankly, Quinn may still be being considered by the Lakers now that they’re back to the drawing board. That said, the Heat’s ability to reach the NBA Finals twice in the last five years make him an enticing prospect.

Micah Nori

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Micah Nori has interviewed for L.A. as well. Like Quinn, he’s at second-in-command on the coaching staff of a dominant defensive team. However, he also comes with the reputation of a player’s coach. There really isn’t much known about him. Nonetheless, the trust he’s earned from his players, peers, and superiors can’t be overlooked.

Dave Joerger

Lastly, there’s former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger, hired by the Cavs as a coaching consultant in 2023-24. There are no reports that he’s been interviewed, so he may not be a candidate. However, if he was, Joerger could also bring Mobley to life. Indeed, the Grizzlies relied on their big men’s offense in his time there. This and his existing links to the Cavs make it possible that he’s one of the finalists.


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