The Cleveland Cavaliers' head coach position is still up for grabs, with the field of candidates slowly shrinking by the day.
Cleveland stands to be a fairly attractive destination, as it not only offers a plethora of young talent but also the No. 1 choice in the 2014 NBA draft as well. The Cavaliers stand to hold plenty of cap room this summer and have new general manager David Griffin providing a fresh leadership voice for the franchise.
Griffin is currently handling the interview process for the Cavs' head job, and he has already met with and interviewed at least five potential candidates according to Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Based on reports and fit with the team, here's how the Cavaliers' coaching list currently shakes out.
Even though no public contact has been made, the following coaches would make sense to lead the Cavs.
Mark Jackson is back calling the NBA playoffs for ESPN/ABC after being fired from the Golden State Warriors just a few weeks ago.
Jackson is a player's coach who received a tremendous amount of support from players like Stephen Curry and David Lee before being let go by the Warriors. He excelled at working with young talent and helped change the culture around the Golden State franchise. Jarrett Jack also had the best season of his career under Jackson in 2012-13.
George Karl is another name that's floated around, an intriguing prospect considering he began his coaching career in Cleveland back in 1984.
As Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio noted, Karl could very well be interested in the position.
The 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year while with the Denver Nuggets, there's been no word of the Cavs reaching out to Karl thus far.
No. 5: Lionel Hollins
According to Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer again, Hollins interviewed with the Cavaliers on June 1, the fourth candidate to do so.
While the former Memphis Grizzlies coach is a widely respected name, the fit doesn't make sense in Cleveland.
Hollins, on the other hand, is more of an old-school type of coach who clashed with Grizzlies management when they brought in ESPN's John Hollinger. Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune tells us more:
In the weeks that followed Hollins’ ouster, other reasons emerged through “inside sources.” That Hollins couldn’t accept analytics and the advanced scouting metrics that are becoming increasingly in use in pro sports. That he clashed with John Hollinger, the one-time Portland resident who is an analytics devotee hired last season by the Grizzlies as vice president/basketball operations.
Obviously there is interest from both sides, but I'd be surprised if Hollins and his veteran style ended up with the job.
No. 4: Vinny Del Negro
Prior relationships always help when it comes to interviews and even possible hirings, as is the case with Del Negro and Griffin.
Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tells us the two have a history together:
Del Negro had been rumored to be a candidate for the job all along, in part because he and Cavs general manager David Griffin worked together in Phoenix, where Del Negro served as a broadcaster, director of player personnel and assistant general manager.
It's worth noting that after Del Negro was fired and the Clippers traded for Doc Rivers, players like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan responded with career years.
While he's still very much in the running, Del Negro is near the bottom of the Cavaliers' short list.
No. 3: Alvin Gentry
This is where the candidates begin to separate themselves.
Another Phoenix connection of Griffin's, Gentry was the Suns' head coach from 2008-2013. While he stands as the only member of the Cavs' interview list to have never played in the NBA, Gentry's offensive knowledge may be just what Cleveland needs after a year of Mike Brown.
Gentry spent the past season as an assistant to Doc Rivers with the Los Angeles Clippers. As Brett Pollakoff of NBC Sports reports, his hiring was an effective one:
Gentry is an offensive-minded coach who Doc Rivers brought to Los Angeles as his associate head coach in order to help the spacing of the Clippers offense. It worked, too — L.A. finished number one in the league in offensive efficiency, with a rating of 109.4 points per 100 possessions.
Hiring a guy like Gentry would be a breath of fresh air for players like Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, who were often forced into isolation plays after Brown's "offense" came to a sputtering halt.
No. 2: Tyronn Lue
Former point guards have proven to be effective head coaches in the league, so Lue's got that going for him.
While Lue's playing resume doesn't hold a candle to that of Jason Kidd or Mark Jackson, he is a two-time NBA champion who lasted 11 years in the league.
Another Clippers assistant, Lue has worked under Doc Rivers for the past five years. Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski referred to Lue as "one of the NBA's most well-regarded young head-coaching prospects." He also notes that Lue's interview with the Cavaliers went very well.
While it may be a non-issue, one has to wonder how guys like Irving and Waiters would respond to Lue.
For one, he's just 37 years old and may seem more like an older brother than a respected boss and leader. Lue was also somewhat of a journeyman guard who never made an All-Star team, something that Irving's done twice already in just three years.
Would he completely buy in to a guy who averaged just 8.5 points and 3.1 assists while mostly coming off the bench?
No. 1: Adrian Griffin
While the Cavaliers have interviewed five potential coaches, it's come down to Lue and Griffin who've gotten the best reviews.
Griffin may not be a household name, but the mix of coaches he's played and worked under makes him an attractive candidate for the job.
An assistant under the much-respected Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau since 2010, Griffin also coached with Scott Skiles and played for Jeff Van Gundy and Don Nelson.
If the Cavaliers wish to re-sign free-agent forward Luol Deng, Griffin may be just the hire they need to convince him to stay. Rick Noland of The Chronicle-Telegram says that the two are close from their time together in Chicago.
Like Lue, Griffin didn't enjoy an illustrious NBA career, but he is very knowledgeable when it comes to the game and can relate well with players. The Associated Press (via ESPN.com) tells us more about the Cavs supposed leading candidate:
Soon after Brown was let go following a disappointing 33-49 season, Adrian Griffin was one of the first candidates to be linked to Cleveland's opening. He has a good rapport with players, and can identify with life as a pro after being bounced around the league and playing in Europe. Griffin has been pursuing his doctorate in leadership studies while working as an assistant.
Due to his experience under well-known coaches, the fact that he was the first one to interview and his meeting with the Cavaliers went very well, Griffin lands at the top of this list for now.
While he may not be the big name some Cavs' fans were hoping for, Griffin would be a quality hire if given the opportunity.
As Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio notes, Cleveland may take a few more weeks before they make their decision.
As long as it turns out to be the right one, the wait will have been well worth it.
Stats via basketball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.
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