Cleveland Cavaliers Hire Golden State Warriors Assistant Kenny Atkinson as Head Coach

New Cavs head coach Kenny Atkinson

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports and The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Cleveland Cavaliers are set to hire Kenny Atkinson as their next head coach. Atkinson will take over for J.B. Bickerstaff, who was let go on May 23 after five seasons at the helm.

Atkinson Has a Resume Filled With Experience

This appointment marks Atkinson’s second stint as an NBA head coach, having previously led the Brooklyn Nets from 2016 to 2020. Before his tenure with the Nets, Atkinson spent eight years as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks. Following his departure from Brooklyn in March 2020, he joined the Golden State Warriors as an assistant coach in August 2021, where he stayed through the 2023-24 season.

In June 2022, Kenny Atkinson had initially negotiated to become the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets but ultimately chose to remain with the Golden State Warriors. Now, as he steps into the head coaching role for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atkinson will find some familiar faces. Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen and guard Caris LeVert, who played under him during his tenure with the Brooklyn Nets, have reportedly spoken highly of him to their teammates.

Despite a Solid 2024 Season, the Cavs Are Massive Underdogs to Win the 2025 NBA Title

The Cavaliers have been performing well. They made the playoffs for the second consecutive year and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals before falling to the Boston Celtics. This playoff run marked the first time the franchise won a series without LeBron James since 1993.

With Atkinson’s hiring resolved, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman can now concentrate on securing the future of Donovan Mitchell. The five-time All-Star guard can sign a five-year, $269.9 million max extension after the 2024-25 season when he becomes a free agent.

The Cleveland Cavaliers concluded their 2024 season with a respectable 48 wins. Securing the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers showcased a promising core comprised of  Mitchell, Darius Garland, Allen, and Evan Mobley. This group, notably young and talented, with Mobley particularly emerging as a standout player, positions Cleveland as a team with potential.

Given their strong lineup and the relatively balanced competition in the Eastern Conference—where the Celtics are the only dominant force—it might seem reasonable to expect the Cavaliers to have solid odds for an NBA championship win next season.

However, they are currently listed with +5000 odds to claim the title next June, an estimation that places them on par with the New Orleans Pelicans, who exited the playoffs in a first-round sweep. This suggests that despite their potential, the market views the Cavaliers as a long shot, similar to teams that have shown less promise in the postseason.

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