In the days following Tuesday's NBA draft lottery, it was easy to fall into the trap of believing the Cleveland Cavaliers—who wound up with the No. 1 pick for the third time in the last four years—couldn’t possible be any luckier.
The Cleveland karma scale might’ve just been tipped, ever so slightly, in the other direction:
Per Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin, Vinny Del Negro is considered a dark horse behind Alvin Gentry, who coached under current Cleveland general manager David Griffin when the two were with the Phoenix Suns.
Longtime Tom Thibodeau assistant Adrian Griffin is also seen as a possible choice to succeed Mike Brown, who was fired by the Cavs for the second time in four years on May 12.
Mark Jackson and Lionel Hollins have also been mentioned as possible candidates, according to The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer.
Del Negro last coached the Los Angeles Clippers from 2010 through the end of 2013, leading the traditionally downtrodden franchise to improved records in each of this three seasons before being let go—purportedly at the behest of All-Star point guard Chris Paul.
That doesn’t mean Cleveland’s list of candidates is complete, of course. Here’s Bleacher Report’s Josh Martin on how the Cavs’ forthcoming pick has changed the franchise’s long-term strategy:
Make no mistake: There will be more names that emerge from the woodwork as the Cavs continue their ride around the coaching carousel. According to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, they'll plumb the depths of the NCAA for possible hires before all is said and done.
Presumably, that means Kentucky's John Calipari will get a look, perhaps with his ties to LeBron James and the power brokers at CAA in mind. Tom Izzo isn't going to leave Michigan State for the Minnesota Timberwolves' gig, but perhaps his past dalliances with the Cavs will lead him to once again consider crossing the border into Ohio.
It stands to reason Cleveland will want a coach in place before next month’s draft, if only to have a clear, coherent sense of where the franchise intends to go in the coming years.
Much has been made of the Cavs botching one (Anthony Bennett) and possibly two (Tristan Thompson) of their recent lottery picks. But after the Brown debacle, neither can Cleveland afford to screw up this next coaching hire.
With Kyrie Irving’s future plans hanging over the franchise like a blunt axe, owner Dan Gilbert’s margin for error has seldom been smaller. Getting the right coach—not just for Irving, but for what promises to be an intriguing, young, high-upside team heading into the 2014-15 season—will be paramount to that plan.
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