Latest On Cavaliers’ Head Coaching Search

The Cavaliers‘ lengthy head coaching search appears to be nearing a resolution, according to Chris Fedor of (subscription required), who reports that the team has narrowed down a group that initially consisted of about 10 candidates to four or five finalists who will have in-person interviews.

Fedor doesn’t name all four (or five) of those finalists, but confirms that Pelicans assistant James Borrego met with head of basketball operations Koby Altman and other Cavaliers officials on Tuesday and that Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson will follow suit this week, likely either Wednesday or Thursday.

While Atkinson was identified as the potential frontrunner early in the process, Fedor says Borrego has been considered the “leader in the clubhouse” since last week. A Tuesday report out of New Orleans suggested the Pelicans are bracing for the loss of Borrego, who is also a candidate for the Lakers.

Borrego and Atkinson both check two important boxes for the Cavaliers, Fedor notes — they have prior head coaching experience and they’re more offensive-minded coaches. Maximizing the club’s offensive production is a priority after its offensive rating (114.7) ranked just 16th in the regular season and plummeted in the playoffs (104.7).

However, Cleveland isn’t simply zeroing in on offensive specialists. A source tells Fedor that at least one of the team’s finalists is better known for his defensive acumen, signaling that management is focused on finding the best overall fit, regardless of a candidate’s specific strengths and weaknesses.

Here’s more from Fedor on the Cavs’ search:

  • Although Cleveland would like to have a new head coach in place before the June 26 draft, that’s considered a “moving target,” according to Fedor, who says the primary goal is to simply get the hire right, no matter how long it takes.
  • There are several ties between the Pelicans and Cavaliers, with top executive David Griffin and big man Larry Nance Jr. among those in New Orleans who have roots in Cleveland. Those links have made it simpler for the Cavs to gather first-hand reports on Borrego. Everyone has spoken positively about the Pelicans assistant, Fedor writes, citing sources who have described Borrego as “humble, innovative, engaging and diplomatic” and as someone who is willing to “learn and listen.” Those qualities have come across in the Cavs’ multiple meetings with Borrego.
  • Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, who played for Atkinson in Brooklyn, have shared “approving” feedback with the Cavaliers about their former head coach, per Fedor.
  • Dave Joerger, Micah Nori, David Adelman, Johnnie Bryant, and Chris Quinn are among the other candidates who have been involved in the Cavaliers’ search, though it’s unclear which of them are finalists. As Fedor points out, Joerger is the only one in that group with period head coaching experience, which could be a factor given the pressure to win right away.
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