The Cleveland Cavaliers, after exiting the 2024 NBA playoffs in the second round of the playoffs to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics, relieved head coach JB Bickerstaff of his duties; while Bickerstaff has been able to lead the Cavs to year by year improvements, at least in terms of where they finished the season on the league’s totem pole, the Cleveland front office clearly wanted a change in leadership to try and get the team to the next level.

According to reports, the Cavs are beginning their search for the team’s next head coach by interviewing Kenny Atkinson and James Borrego, two former head coaches who worked as assistants for the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans, respectively, this past season. But the Cavs’ search won’t be limited to those two, as they are casting a much wider net.

Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Cavs “have received permission” to interview two other assistant coaches from other teams: New York Knicks associate head coach Johnnie Bryant, as well as Miami Heat top assistant Chris Quinn.

It remains to be seen which direction the Cavs will be taking with their new hire. Will they opt for someone who has experience leading a bench in the past in Kenny Atkinson or James Borrego? Or will they take a shot at someone who doesn’t have head coaching experience, but has shown a ton of coaching potential?

Who is the Cavs’ best head coaching option?

In terms of handling an ego-less team, Kenny Atkinson is head and shoulders above the pack in terms of coaching acumen. He helped turn around the Brooklyn Nets in the latter half of the past decade, as they went from a 20-win doormat to a 42-win team that had as good of a chemistry as we’ve seen from a team in recent memory.

However, Atkinson grew more and more disconnected with the Nets locker room as time passed by. Reportedly, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving soured on him, which played a part in their “mutual parting of ways” in February 2020.

Four years have passed since then, however. Perhaps Kenny Atkinson is more attuned to the ways of coaching superstar talent. The Cavs will be banking on this; after all, they hope to keep Donovan Mitchell for the long haul.

Meanwhile, James Borrego is able to coach a high-level offense; in his final year with the Charlotte Hornets, that team had a top-10 offense. Perhaps he could unlock a higher offensive level for a Cavs team that finished 16th in the 2023-24 regular season in offensive rating. It’s unclear what Borrego’s interest level in taking a job in Cleveland is, however, especially when there are loud rumors that he could be in for a high-paying gig as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Chris Quinn appears to be long overdue for a head coaching job as well; he has been part of the Heat coaching staff under Erik Spoelstra for quite some time now, and he has played a huge role in ensuring that the Heat players bleed its famous culture.

Johnnie Bryant, however, could have inside track on the Cavs job thanks to his relationship with Donovan Mitchell. Bryant was part of the Utah Jazz’s coaching staff during Mitchell’s first three years in the league. The Cavs are intent on convincing Mitchell to stay, so hiring someone their superstar is familiar with could be of help.

Why did Cleveland let J.B. Bickerstaff go?

It’s not too often that a team that won 99 total games over the past two seasons and made it to the second round of the playoffs fires its head coach. Alas, that’s what the Cavs did when they let Bickerstaff go. Bickerstaff has overseen linear improvements from the team; they went from a 22-win team in 2021 to a solid playoff contender that probably would have made more playoff noise in 2024 had their roster been healthy.

The Cavs opted to search for a new head coach in an attempt to get the team to a championship level. They probably think of Bickerstaff the same way the Warriors did of Mark Jackson when they chose to go for Steve Kerr prior to the 2014-15 season.

“Someone with a new approach, someone with a different voice, a fresh set of eyes to help us move forward. We’ve accomplished a lot in the last few years, getting to a conference semifinal, and we don’t want to be complacent. We feel we’re not far off,” Cavs president of basketball operations Koby Altman said, per ESPN.