Storyline: Cavaliers Coaching Job

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Cavaliers to interview JB Bickerstaff next week?

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There is at least one current NBA assistant with perhaps deeper ties to the organization than any of the above-mentioned candidates — current Denver assistant Jordi Fernandez — who has not yet been contacted for an interview. In January, The Athletic reported Fernandez would receive consideration from the Cavs. Cleveland.com reported Thursday the team still had interest in him But at age 36, Fernandez would be the youngest of the Cavs’ candidates, with also the least experience as a front-of-the-bench assistant. He’s third in the pecking order on Nuggets coach Michael Malone’s staff.

Even​ if the​ Cavaliers​ lose​ their​ finale Tuesday night, finish the season​ on a 10-game​ losing​ streak and​ tie​ the​​ franchise’s fourth-worst record ever, coach Larry Drew will have by all accounts done a remarkable job. He’s also most likely about to be out of one. The Cavs have said nothing publicly of Drew’s future on this team, though they’ve done nothing to give anyone the idea that he will return. Drew said before the Cavs were pounded 112-90 by the Spurs on Sunday that there’s been “no discussion about my future, and we’ve decided to wait until the season is completely over before we discuss that.”

“I think he’d be great for the future, but, I don’t even know if he wants it,” Love said. “He knows that I have his back and I think a lot of the guys have his back.” Nance said: “I think we’ve made pretty awesome strides and I think everyone would kind of agree with that, that we’ve made awesome strides. I’m a Larry Drew fan.” And Sexton: “He’s done a tremendous job with us.” The Cavs’ front office would agree. This team, with a massive amount of injuries and a roster that is sure to change dramatically over the next two years, hung together and improved under Drew. He’ll surely be thanked for his efforts, and, he’ll receive the buyout he publicly shamed the organization into giving him when Tyronn Lue was fired and Drew was named his replacement.

First-time coaches: Given their own needs and seeing some recent success from other rebuilding franchises, the Cavs will most likely go in this direction. Atlanta seems to have found its franchise leader for the new era, hiring Lloyd Pierce, a guy on the coaching radar for years. He is the kind of leader that will be able to grow with the team’s young nucleus. James Borrego worked his way up and ultimately landed with the Charlotte Hornets. J.B. Bickerstaff is another example. And while Kenny Atkinson was a bit older and more seasoned, based on a few years overseas following a well-traveled playing career, his work in player development has a few NBA teams, including the Cavs, wondering if there’s another out there. Jordi Fernandez, Denver Nuggets – Fernandez seems to check a lot of boxes for Cleveland. He’s 36 years old, the kind of coach who can relate with the numerous youngsters on the roster. Player development will be key in this search and Fernandez spent four years on the Cavaliers staff in that capacity before becoming an assistant in the G League.

Adrian Griffin, Toronto Raptors – Interviewed by Cleveland during its 2014 search, the Cavs couldn’t quite figure out if Griffin was truly ready for the lead role. At that time, he was working alongside Tom Thibodeau, an omnipresent coach and dominant personality. Since leaving Thibodeau’s side, Griffin, 44, has been able to grow, having gained experience as an assistant in Orlando, Oklahoma City, Toronto and Team USA. Jimmy Butler has talked about Griffin’s role in his rise to stardom. That fits the team’s desire to find someone known for player development. Griffin also comes from a few winning programs, where he has seen what it takes to create that kind of culture. That will also be appealing to the Cavs.

Meanwhile, the Cavs’ front office, led by general manager Koby Altman, would likely target a first-time NBA head coach with experience developing players and/or coaching in the G League, multiple sources with knowledge of their thinking said. Cleveland has not reached out directly to candidates or their agents and is in the early stages of its search, sources said. But there are no fewer than six candidates who fit the above criteria with ties to Altman and the Cavs’ organization.

They are: current Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez, 36, who was the head coach for the Cavs’ G League affiliate in Canton from 2014-16; Hornets assistant Steve Hetzel, 38, who coached the Charge from 2013-14; Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, 44, who interviewed to be the Cavs’ head coach when they hired David Blatt in 2014; Hawks assistant Chris Jent, 49, a former player development coach in Cleveland; Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley, 40, who was a Cavs assistant from 2010-14; and Jazz assistant Alex Jensen, 42, who coached Canton from 2011-13.


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May 23, 2019 | 2:47 pm EDT Update