As the Cavs’ furious search for their next coach comes to a close, the picture of the team’s future is coming more into focus. Cleveland’s brass appears to have decided on its next locker-room leader, and now its focus can shift entirely to the NBA Draft.

The Cavs are going with Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, via ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“ESPN Sources: The Cleveland Cavaliers are hiring Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson as the franchise’s next head coach and sides are working on a contract that’s expected to be completed soon,” Wojnarowski tweeted.

Atkinson has strong relationships with much of the team’s core, which may have been the deciding factor in the decision.

“The Cavaliers are especially eager for Atkinson’s player development program to impact young 7-footer Evan Mobley, sources said,” Wojnarowski continued. “Atkinson has a strong history with Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert from their time together with the Nets.”

How did Cleveland’s brass convince Atkinson to take the job?

Atkinson hit it off with Dan Gilbert and the Cavs

olden State Warriors assistant head coach Kenny Atkinson during the second half against the Utah Jazz at Delta Center.

© Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Atkinson gelled with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and the rest of the brass due to their shared vision for the team, via The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

“Borrego, sources said, was the front runner as of last week, until Cleveland’s front office met with Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert on Wednesday,” Charania wrote. “Atkinson’s candidacy gained considerable momentum after the meeting between Gilbert and team executives. Gilbert has in the past intervened in coaching searches, driving initiatives to hire David Blatt in 2014 and John Beilein in 2019, as well as an unsuccessful attempt to lure Tom Izzo away from Michigan State in 2010.”

While the specific talking points mentioned in the meeting aren’t known, Atkinson’s reputation as a player developer was most likely the chief aspect. Atkinson has a track record, as he led the Brooklyn Nets from 2016-2020, overseeing their rise to legitimate championship contenders. On top of that, he’s spent the last three years as an understudy to four-time champion head coach Steve Kerr.

Of course, Cleveland has the talent for him to work with as well. Mobley, Allen, and Darius Garland are all high-upside young players, and star Donovan Mitchell is one of the most dynamic scorers in the league. One of Atkinson’s top missions will be to maintain a winning culture immediately, to convince Mitchell to stay with the team long-term.

That will be easier said than done, though. Atkinson will have to do an exceptional job to get the Cavs past the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, and Milwaukee Bucks in the East. However, if he lives up to his reputation, Cleveland has a puncher’s chance.