Best Coaching Options for the Cleveland Cavaliers

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On Thursday morning, it was announced that the Cleveland Cavaliers would be letting go of head coach JB Bickerstaff after a five-season tenure holding the reins.

Under his control, the Cavs were led to a 170-159 record, with those 170 victories being good for 5th all-time in Cavalier coaches history, behind Mike Fratello, Bill Fitch, Mike Brown, and Lenny Wilkens.

Now, all eyes turn to the surely tumultuous offseason that lies ahead for Cleveland, including the decision on who will take over as the new head coach.

Thankfully, the list of coaches available is an impressive one.

Here are five coaches the Cavs should look to to keep this organization going in the right direction.

1. Kenny Atkinson

After a lengthy playing career overseas, Atkinson’s coaching career began in 2008 with the New York Knicks. Then, in 2012, he would take over as assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks. Four years later, he was hired as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Following four seasons with the Nets where he racked up 118 wins and 190 losses, Atkinson would move west to take over as assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers under former Cavs coach Tyronne Lue for a season. Since then, he has been an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors.

Atkinson is known for his amazing player development skills, turning point guard D’Angelo Russell into an All-star and shooting guard Spencer Dinwiddie into a solid 15-point-per-game scorer, as well as using a pick-and-roll heavy offense. With such a young team, Atkinson could be the perfect coach to lead the Cavs youth in the right direction.

2. James Borrego

James Borrego didn’t have to wait long to begin coaching, with his first stint starting right out of college as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of San Diego. Borrego’s career working in the NBA would begin two years later when he got the assistant job for the San Antonio Spurs.

Over the next 15 years, Borrego would bounce around, working for the Spurs, the New Orleans Hornets, and the Orlando Magic, before eventually being hired as head coach of the Charlotte Hornets in 2018.

Following a four-season tenure with the Hornets where Borrego finished with a 138-163 record overall, he would go back to New Orleans, once again as an assistant coach.

Borrego emphasizes heavy ball movement, playing hard on defense, and three-point shooting, suiting him perfectly for any coaching job in the entire NBA. He is also known for his unusual lineups, which could make him a great fit for the job with the Cavs, given their recent roster concerns.

3. JJ Redick

Redick is an unusual candidate, as he has zero coaching experience. However, amongst the currently available coaches, he is considered to be one of the best.

After a long playing career with the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers, Philidelphia 76ers, New Orleans Pelicans, and Dallas Mavericks, Redick has worked as an NBA analyst on ESPN, as well as having two basketball podcasts, one of which is with LeBron James.

He is widely regarded as one of the brightest basketball minds in the media world, leading people to believe he would be the perfect head coach, especially thanks to the coaches he played under, including Coach K at Duke, Stan Van Gundy in Orlando, Doc Rivers in Los Angeles, and Brett Brown in Philidelphia.

Thanks to 15 years playing in the NBA, he is a coach that players could easily relate to and buy into, which would make the Cavs lucky to have him.

4. Frank Vogel

Vogel got his start in coaching in 2001 as an assistant for the Boston Celtics. After a brief stint in Philidelphia a few years later, he would make his way to Indiana, eventually becoming the head coach in 2011.

While coaching the Pacers, he coached them to two straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances in 2013 and 2014. After being let go in 2016, Vogel would become the head coach of the Orlando Magic for two seasons, and then the Lakers for three, where he would win his first NBA title in 2020.

This past season, Vogel took over the Phoenix Suns, but a first-round exit to the Minnesota Timberwolves led to him being fired once more.

Despite his struggles the last few seasons, Vogel has a lot to give to any team he coaches, particularly on the defensive end, and with the Cavaliers being a defensive-minded team first and foremost, Vogel’s coaching style could be perfect for the team.

5. Micah Nori

Micah Nori did not take the typical route to be an employee of the NBA. Originally intending to be an athletic director, Nori got his job as an assistant for the Toronto Raptors after being recommended for the position by a friend.

Following four seasons up north and two years off in between, Nori took the assistant coach job with the Denver Nuggets in 2015, where he met future Timberwolves coach Chris Finch, and then with the Detroit Pistons in 2018.

After keeping in touch with Finch, Nori would take the assistant coach job in Minnesota. In Game 4 of the Western Conference opening round against the Phoenix Suns, Finch was injured in a collision, leading to Nori taking over as interim coach, a position he still holds as Finch recovers.

Nori’s biggest strength in coaching lies in his ability to make effective in-game adjustments, something the Cavaliers seemed to lack this past postseason, especially against Boston. He also is known for creating great relationships with his players. While it would be his first time as an official head coach, he surely would be a great match with the Cavs.

By carefully considering these candidates, the Cavaliers can find a coach capable of guiding their young team to new heights.

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