Cavaliers Officially Hire Kenny Atkinson As Head Coach

JUNE 28: The Cavaliers have officially announced the hiring of Atkinson, with president of basketball operations Koby Altman referring to it as the culmination of a “thorough and extensive search.”

“Kenny brings a wealth of experience, a proven track record of player development, and a relentless work ethic that aligns with the vision we have for this franchise,” Altman said in a statement. “His innovative approach will instill a style of play and brand of basketball that will give us a chance for sustainable success and ultimately compete for Championships. His familiarity coaching alongside some of the NBA’s best elevates this partnership and we are excited that Kenny will guide our team and help us achieve our goals both on and off the court.”

JUNE 26: The Cavaliers and Atkinson have agreed to a five-year contract, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

JUNE 24: The Cavaliers will hire Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson as their next head coach, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The two sides are working on a contract and an agreement is expected soon, Wojnarowski adds.

Atkinson and Pelicans associate head coach James Borrego were the finalists for the position, according to Wojnarowski, who hears that Cleveland prioritized Atkinson because of the potential influence his player development program could have on Evan Mobley. Atkinson also has a prior relationship with Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert after coaching them in Brooklyn.

Atkinson’s only previous head coaching experience came with the Nets, where he compiled a 118-190 record while overseeing a rebuilding project. He resigned after the 2019/20 season, then spent a year with the Clippers before becoming Steve Kerr’s top assistant with Golden State in 2021. Wojnarowski notes that Atkinson briefly accepted a head coaching job with the Hornets two years ago before changing his mind and staying with the Warriors.

The Cavaliers conducted an extensive search after firing J.B. Bickerstaff last month, as our coaching search tracker shows. Nuggets assistant David Adelman, Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant, Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori and Heat assistant Chris Quinn all reportedly interviewed for the job, while Mavericks assistant Alex Jensen, Bucks assistant Dave Joerger and former Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts also reportedly received consideration.

Atkinson will take over a Cavs team that has improved significantly over the past two seasons, but didn’t achieve enough in the playoffs to save Bickerstaff’s job. Among the issues Atkinson will have to address is how to get the most out of similar players in Mobley and Allen in the frontcourt and Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland in the backcourt, assuming Cleveland keeps the core of its roster intact.

Negotiating a long-term extension with Mitchell will be the team’s next priority, Wojnarowski adds. The All-Star guard has a player option on his $37MM contract for 2025/26.

Borrego remains a “prominent candidate” for the Pistons, who now have the only open head coaching job in the league, Wojnarowski tweets. After joining the staff in New Orleans last summer, Borrego worked closely with Trajan Langdon, who recently took over as head of basketball operations in Detroit.

Atkinson’s departure is a significant loss for the Warriors, notes Anthony Slater of the Athletic (Twitter link), who hears that the team will consider adding two new assistants this offseason.

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