Cavaliers name former Nets coach as new head coach

Kenny Atkinson, the veteran NBA assistant coach with a stint as a head coach, is the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a person with knowledge of the hire told USA TODAY Sports.

The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly until the Cavaliers make an official announcement.

Atkinson, 57, is known for his Xs and Os acumen and player development programs. He takes over a team that finished 48-34 and finished fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers beat Orlando in the first round and lost to the Celtics in the second round.

Atkinson, a Golden State Warriors assistant, was hired by the Brooklyn Nets as the team’s head coach in 2016. In four seasons with Brooklyn, he compiled a 118-190 record, but his Nets teams showed improvement. However, when the Nets acquired Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, the Nets went in another direction, and the two sides parted ways in March 2020.

He’s been a finalist for other jobs since, and he grew as a coach working with Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, his staff and the players. Atkinson then spent a season with the Los Angeles Clippers and has been on Kerr’s staff with Golden State since the start of the 2021 season.

He declined an opportunity to coach the Charlotte Hornets in 2022, the year Golden State defeated Boston in the NBA Finals.

The Cavaliers have several roster decisions to make and are hoping they can sign All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell to an extension. Mitchell has two years left on his contact but can become a free agent after the 2024-25 season.

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