4 Cleveland Cavaliers head coach candidates to replace J.B. Bickerstaff

A look at four Cleveland Cavaliers head coach candidates to replace the fired J.B. Bickerstaff

Cleveland Cavaliers promote Koby Altman to GM.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have dismissed head coach J.B. Bickerstaff despite the team winning 99 games over the last two seasons and making the playoffs both years.

Cleveland was eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the second round 4-1. The question now is simple. Who could potentially replace him in Cleveland.

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach candidates

4. Kenny Atkinson

Kenny Atkinson, Cleveland Cavaliers
Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Atkinson is one of the names throughout NBA circles being mentioned for the Cavaliers’ job. In his previous coaching stint with the Brooklyn Nets, he revitalized them and took them to the playoffs in 2018.

Atkinson is best known for applying analytics to the game, which is the way the modern day NBA has been for quite some time. Atkinson is also an assistant coach under Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr starting in 2021.

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3. Terry Stotts

May 24, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts looks on in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets during game two in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

If a team wants to make the postseason, they should hire Terry Stotts. All this man does is be consistent. Eight consecutive playoff performances with the Portland Trailblazers from 2013-21 before being an assistant head coach with the Milwaukee Bucks.

He resigned from the job the day before Milwaukee played their final preseason game on October 19, 2023. He has not had a coaching job in the NBA since.

2. Mark Jackson

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson has not coached in the NBA since 2014 when he was with the Golden State Warriors. He doesn’t get enough credit for the turnaround he made to the team. After finishing 23-43 in his first year as head coach in 2011-12, Jackson then led Golden State to consecutive playoff appearances in 2012 and 2013 and was able to unlock the greatness of his two superstars, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

The Warriors won 51 games in the 2013-14 season. In the midst of the playoffs, Jackson was fired by owner Joe Lacob on May 6, 2014 in what remains a questionable decision to this day.

Lacob had acknowledged Jackson’s great job of turning the Warriors around but felt the team needed a different coach in order to win a championship. Golden State hired Steve Kerr the following season and never looked back. Mark Jackson deserves another chance to be a coach in the NBA.

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1. Frank Vogel

Phoenix Suns head coach Frank Vogel
Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Vogel is another name to keep an eye on and perhaps the best available option available. He has championship experience, winning with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020 and being in the postseason numerous times in his previous years with the Indiana Pacers. His specialty is instilling a defensive mentality in his teams.

Vogel lost his job with the Lakers after the 2021 season but it was not his fault. LA traded nearly their entire championship roster for a declining Russell Westbrook and right then and there, the team was doomed. Los Angeles made the postseason but got eliminated in the first round against the Phoenix Suns.

Fast forward to this season, Vogel was hired by the Phoenix Suns. Although to no fault of his own, it did not work out. He was let go after one year. The real issue with Phoenix, like the Lakers was their underwhelming roster. They were extremely top heavy investing everything possible into three players as far as their salary cap: Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Kevin Durant.

The three of them combined to play fewer than 50 regular-season games together because they all missed time at some point this season due to injury. Despite that and some internal rumblings of KD and Vogel not always getting along, Phoenix was good enough to finish top six in the Western Conference.

Unfortunately, they were swept in the first round by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Vogel was fired immediately after that. Needless to say, he wasn’t the cause of the issue and he should get another opportunity to coach somewhere in the near future. Maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers call him up. We’ll see.

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