Cavaliers get permission to interview assistants Atkinson, Borrego for coaching vacancy, source says

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers have received permission to interview Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson and New Orleans assistant James Borrego for their head coaching vacancy, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

Cleveland fired J.B. Bickerstaff last week despite him leading the team to the second round of the playoffs.

Atkinson and Borrego are the first candidates to be contacted by the Cavs, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is in the early stages of an expansive search to replace Bickerstaff.

ESPN was first to report the team getting clearance to speak with Atkinson and Borrego, both of whom have also been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers’ opening. Borrego has reportedly met with LA officials.

Washington filled its opening Wednesday by keeping Brian Keefe, who was its interim coach after January.

Last week while discussing the decision to fire Bickerstaff, Cavs president of basketball operations Koby Altman said there was no timeline to find a new coach.

Ideally, the team would like to have a coach in place by next month’s draft but Altman isn’t rushing this decision.

“It’s when we come up with the right decision for who’s the right match for this group and if it has to drag on a little longer, it does,” Altman said.

The Cavs’ job is certainly attractive.

Cleveland won 48 games in the regular season despite numerous injuries, beat Orlando in the first round and then battled Boston for five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals despite playing the series without center Jarrett Allen due to a rib injury.

The Cavs were also missing All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell in the final two games with a calf injury. Mitchell is eligible to sign a long-term contract extension this summer and his future in Cleveland likely played a role in Bickerstaff’s dismissal.

A longtime assistant under Mike D’Antoni in New York, the 56-year-old Atkinson got his first head coaching gig with Brooklyn in 2016. He went 118-190 with the Nets over four seasons before stepping down.

Atkinson has been on Steve Kerr’s staff with the Warriors since 2021.

Borrego, 46, went 138-163 as Charlotte’s coach from 2018-22. He spent last year as an associate head coach with the Pelicans and was credited with helping improve the team’s offense — a major need for Cleveland.



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