The Cleveland Cavaliers have had quite the tumultuous season this year. At 14-47, the team sports the third-worst record in the NBA.
They have lost players like Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson to injury and players like J.R. Smith have requested a trade.
As the regular season enters its final two months, it is important to think about the Cavs’ coaching situation for next year and beyond.
Since the firing of former head coach Tyronn Lue six games into the season, current head coach Larry Drew has done an admirable job. His contract presents an interesting scenario, though; he was formalized as head coach for this season and has an agreement for the 2019-20 season should Cleveland elect to maintain his position.
Having said the above, here are five coaching candidates the Cavs should consider:
1. Larry Drew (Again)
As previously mentioned, Drew will be considered for the head coaching job, but only if he wants it.
Because of countless injuries and several trades to the Cavs, Drew has been forced to use a plethora of starting lineups. This has made it difficult to establish a clear and constant rhythm among the players, and as a result, the Cavs have fallen to the lower echelon of the NBA. Coaching this team has certainly not been an easy task for him this year.
With all of this into consideration, however, Drew has done an excellent job as head coach. He’s kept the team together, despite having many different personalities on the team. He has an uncanny ability to connect with players and teach them skills instrumental to developing their games.
Drew has also overseen the development of many of the team’s young players, including Cedi Osman, Collin Sexton, and Larry Nance Jr, with Osman most recently being named to the Rising Stars Challenge. There is no denying the fact that under Drew, the Cavs have refused to give up and have shown incredible resilience this year.
From being reluctant to commit to the interim head coach position, to expressing uncertainty as to whether he sees himself as a head coach ever again after this year, to having no interest in tanking, he has endured more stress than a coach usually experiences in a given year.
Ultimately, Drew has much more NBA coaching experience than any of the other four candidates listed in this article. Whether or not he wishes to remain as the Cavs’ head coach is a decision he must make after this season.
2. Jason Kidd
Though there have been rumors that Kidd could be considered by the Lakers should Luke Walton get fired, there is no doubt that he would be a tremendous asset to the Cavs. Kidd has finished with a winning record in three of the five seasons he has been an NBA head coach, and has coached the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks to one and two playoff appearances, respectively.
Kidd additionally developed a close relationship with star players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton during his tenure in Milwaukee, which shows his ability to connect with different players on a team.
Simply put, Kidd is one of the greatest point guards in NBA history. As a player, he was a regular triple-double threat on the court, and his acute knowledge of the game should only benefit the Cavs, and in particular, first-year point guard Collin Sexton.
3. Becky Hammon
Hammon is another intriguing name that comes to mind. Currently an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, she has worked well in tandem with head coach Gregg Popovich. When asked about Hammon last summer, Popovich immediately showered her with praise, calling her a “special, special woman.”
Additionally, in the past, people who have worked with or played under the legendary Popovich have gone on to have successful coaching careers. Mike Budenholzer, Steve Kerr, Brett Brown, and Mike Brown are just a few names that come to mind here, all from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree.
Hammon, if hired by the Cavs, would become the first-ever female head coach in NBA history. It would be a momentous occasion, should it happen.
4. Jordi Fernández
Two words come to mind when thinking of Fernández: youth and familiarity. As a current assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets, he is 36 years old, which should allow him to connect with the many youngsters on the Cavs roster. Fernández has also worked extensively in player development, as he spent four years on the Cavaliers staff in that very capacity.
Fernández was named the top assistant coach of the NBA G League’s Canton Charge in 2013, and was promoted to head coach after just one season. He spent two years as head coach of the Charge, and coached the team to a 31-19 record in both seasons. For his work in Canton, he earned an assistant gig with the Denver Nuggets in 2016-17, which provides him with experience running a professional team.
Although the G League is a different level of competition, Fernández has experience in a variety of systems, including managing different NBA personalities and interacting with NBA management daily.
5. Jay Wright
As the head coach of the Villanova men’s basketball team, Wright is one of the very best coaches in college basketball. He has over 500 wins, five Big East regular season titles, two National Coach of the Year awards, and a pair of national championships (2016 and 2018). His offense also meshes well with a modern day NBA system, as it hoists 3-pointers at a very high rate.
Current NBA players that have been coached by Wright include: Kyle Lowry, Josh Hart, Mikal Bridges, Ryan Arcidiacono, Donte DiVincenzo, Jalen Brunson, and Dante Cunningham.
Plus, the Cavs have reached out to college coaches in the past. In the summer of 2010, the team was relatively close to hiring Michigan State’s Tom Izzo as head coach. They certainly can’t go wrong in gauging Wright’s interest.