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Cavaliers hire Kenny Atkinson: Cleveland lands Warriors assistant after month-long search, per report

Written by on June 24, 2024

The Cleveland Cavaliers have hired Kenny Atkinson as their head coach, according to Shams Charania. Atkinson, who previously served as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets from 2016-2020, has spent the past three seasons with the Golden State Warriors as a top assistant under Steve Kerr. He is known for his pick-and-roll heavy offense and his ability to develop young players.

Cleveland’s coaching search began on May 24 when the Cavaliers fired J.B. Bickerstaff, and it was centered around two coaches throughout the entire process: Atkinson and former Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego. It had been widely reported earlier in the process that Borrego, not Atkinson, was considered the favorite, but Atkinson gained steam in recent days.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who had taken a step back from active leadership with the team in recent years, was reportedly heavily involved in the decision to hire Atkinson. The former Nets coach received an important endorsement from Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, according to Marc Stein. Gilbert is a Michigan State alum and tried to hire Izzo himself in 2010, so his word holds quite a bit of sway in Cleveland.

Two key Cleveland players have experience playing for Atkinson in Brooklyn, as both Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert were drafted by the Nets during his tenure. Allen, infamously, was a point of contention when Atkinson lost the Nets job, as star free agent signings Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving reportedly wanted Brooklyn to start DeAndre Jordan over him. Jordan had passed his prime by that point, and Allen has blossomed into an All-Star in Cleveland, so Atkinson has since been proven right on that front.

Cleveland’s roster is in a state of flux at the moment. While the Cavaliers are reportedly confident that he will sign a contract extension, Donovan Mitchell can become a free agent in 2025 and if he does not agree to extend, he is expected to be traded. If he does extend, point guard Darius Garland will reportedly explore trade possibilities with his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Meanwhile, the fit between Allen and Evan Mobley continues to cause problems on offense, and Mobley’s strong performance at center in the playoffs may make Allen expendable as the team looks for an impact wing.

Finding a coach was the first domino for the Cavaliers. There is still a lot of work to be done. Now, at least, Cleveland knows who will be leading its roster even if it doesn’t quite yet know who will be playing on it.

The post Cavaliers hire Kenny Atkinson: Cleveland lands Warriors assistant after month-long search, per report first appeared on CBS Sports.

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