Front runner reportedly emerging in Cleveland Cavaliers coaching search

Cleveland Cavaliers
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers offseason started with swirling NBA rumors about the futures for star players like Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. So far, only coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been let go and the Cavaliers coaching search is moving quickly towards a conclusion.

Reports surfaced during the NBA Playoffs that Bickerstaff might not be safe in Cleveland. Days after the team was eliminated, the Cavaliers fired their coach. The team’s coaching search was going on simultaneously as the Los Angeles Lakers coaching search, leading to some competition for top candidates.

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With the Lakers officially hiring J.J. Redick to replace Darvin Ham, it now appears Cleveland is making significant progress in its search for a new coach.

According to NBA insider Marc Stein, Kenny Atkinson has overtaken James Borrego as the front-runner in the Cavaliers coaching search. Cleveland is also considering Minnesota Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori, but Atkinson is viewed as the leader in the search.

The Cavaliers coaching search is also reportedly impacting the recently launched Detroit Pistons coaching search. Stein reports that Cleveland’s selection is expected to have a “direct impact” on Cleveland’s search, as the Pistons are interested in Borrego and Nori.

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Atkinson has been a sought-after candidate for many years and is known for his background in player development. Most recently, Atkinson was poised to become the Charlotte Hornets coach in 2022 but the deal fell through

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The 57-year-old coach joined the Golden State Warriors coaching staff in 2021, after a stint as an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers. Atkinson has been the top assistant under coach Steve Kerr and many around the league viewed it as a matter of time until he got his second chance as a head coach.

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