Sources: Cleveland Cavaliers hiring Kenny Atkinson as coach

June 24, 2024, 10:59 AM

The Cleveland Cavaliers are hiring Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson as the franchise's next coach, sources told ESPN on Monday.

The sides have started work on a contract, and a deal is expected to be reached soon, sources said.

The Cavaliers' process had been pared down to Atkinson and New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach James Borrego, sources said. Borrego, who worked the past season with new Detroit president Trajan Langdon in New Orleans, is now expected to become a prominent candidate in the Pistons' coaching search, sources told ESPN.

Atkinson, the top assistant with the Warriors, takes over a Cavaliers roster that advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals and won 99 regular-season games over the past two seasons. He joins an organization that includes two key players who blossomed during his tenure as the Brooklyn Nets coach -- Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert.

Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman and general manager Mike Gansey are especially eager for Atkinson's reputable player development program to impact young center Evan Mobley, sources said.

Cleveland's offseason priority turns fully to securing All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell on a contract extension. He has one year left before he can exercise an early termination option.

Atkinson, 57, was 118-190 in three-plus years with the Nets, inheriting a full rebuild and showing improvement each season until he resigned after an injury-plagued 2019-20 season. He spent the 2020-21 season with the LA Clippers as an assistant before joining Steve Kerr's staff as the top assistant in 2021. Two years ago, Atkinson briefly accepted the Charlotte Hornets' head-coaching job before changing his mind and remaining with the Warriors.

Atkinson is currently in Paris, where he'll serve as an assistant coach for the French national team during the Olympics.

Atkinson spent nine seasons as an NBA assistant -- four with the New York Knicks, three with the Atlanta Hawks before returning to the assistant-coaching ranks with the Clippers and Warriors.