Cleveland Cavaliers Appoint Kenny Atkinson as Head Coach with Five-Year Deal

Cleveland Cavaliers Appoint Kenny Atkinson as Head Coach with Five-Year Deal
Image Credit: Kenny Atkinson

The Cleveland Cavaliers have appointed Kenny Atkinson as their new head coach, signing him to a five-year contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Atkinson, who has been a key assistant for the Golden State Warriors under Steve Kerr for the past three seasons, previously served as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets from 2016 to 2020. Known for his pick-and-roll-heavy offense and his ability to develop young talent, Atkinson brings a wealth of experience to Cleveland.

Cleveland’s search for a new coach began on May 24 after the firing of J.B. Bickerstaff. The Cavaliers’ focus was primarily on two candidates: Atkinson and former Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego. Despite early reports favoring Borrego, Atkinson’s candidacy gained momentum as the process unfolded.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who has taken a more active role in recent decisions, was significantly involved in hiring Atkinson. A crucial endorsement from Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, a figure highly respected by Gilbert, helped seal the deal. Gilbert, a Michigan State alumnus, had previously attempted to hire Izzo in 2010, making Izzo’s recommendation particularly influential.

Atkinson is not unfamiliar with the Cavaliers’ roster. Two key players, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert, were drafted by the Nets during Atkinson’s tenure in Brooklyn. Allen, in particular, was a point of contention during Atkinson’s time with the Nets when star signings Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving preferred veteran DeAndre Jordan to start over Allen. Atkinson’s preference for Allen has been vindicated, as Allen has developed into an All-Star in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Cavaliers roster remains in a state of flux. While the team is optimistic about signing Donovan Mitchell to a max contract extension, his potential free agency in 2025 makes him a trade consideration. Additionally, if Mitchell extends his contract, Darius Garland is expected to explore trade opportunities with his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. The frontcourt pairing of Allen and Evan Mobley has also been problematic on offense, with Mobley’s strong playoff performance at center suggesting that Allen could be expendable as the team seeks an impactful wing player.

Securing Atkinson as head coach is the first major step for the Cavaliers this offseason. However, significant roster decisions are still pending as Cleveland looks to solidify its lineup for the upcoming season. At least now, the Cavaliers have clarity on who will be leading their team, even if the player composition remains uncertain.


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