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After J.B. Bickerstaff was dismissed on Thursday, the Cleveland Cavaliers are about to embark on a coaching search that figures to be particularly difficult for one reason: they don't know what their roster will look like next season. While reports suggest they are optimistic about re-signing Donovan Mitchell, the uncertainty surrounding his status makes it hard for Cleveland to find an ideal candidate.

The goal here is convincing Mitchell to stay put. In this hire, they'll have to find a coach that Mitchell approves of, but would also be capable of coaching a younger, Darius Garland-led version of this team if necessary. It is unclear if Jarrett Allen will be back next season given his fit concerns with Evan Mobley, so the coach in question should be ready to play lineups built around either one or two big men. This is a job that demands both a win-now mentality and the patience to develop younger talent.

Coaches who check all of those boxes are rare. Here are five candidates that make some degree of sense.

James Borrego

James Borrego is one of the early front-runners for the job, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania, and he's an obvious fit. Though his record didn't reflect it, he was very well-regarded during his stint as head coach of the Charlotte Hornets. His talent prevented him from meaningfully contending, but his teams tended to outperform expectations, emphasize 3-point shooting and ball movement, and play hard on defense. He is a creative basketball thinker comfortable playing unorthodox lineups, which may be a necessity given Cleveland's roster concerns, yet he's an experienced head coach who won't need time to acclimate to the job. The Cavaliers would be the most talented team he's ever coached regardless of what happens with Mitchell, so the fit here makes plenty of sense.

Kenny Atkinson

Atkinson is the other initial candidate on Cleveland's radar, according to Charania. The former Brooklyn Nets coach has rebuilt his career as an assistant in Golden State, much like Mike Brown before him, and he's been picky about landing the right job for his second chance. He turned down the Hornets in 2022 after initially accepting the job. Might the Cavaliers be able to lure him away from the Warriors? It's an interesting fit if they can. Think of the success Atkinson had with lower-end ball-handlers in Brooklyn. He turned D'Angelo Russell into an All-Star and made Spencer Dinwiddie, a little-known former G-Leaguer, millions of dollars. Atkinson did so with a pick-and-roll heavy offense that Mitchell, particularly, would thrive in. He might also buy the Cavs a little bit of time when it comes to solving their front-court dilemma. Remember, Atkinson's starting center in Brooklyn was Jarrett Allen. Part of what got him fired was his decision to start Allen over DeAndre Jordan. History has vindicated him on that front, so he might be interested in giving the Mobley-Allen pairing one more try before breaking it up.

Frank Vogel

Atkinson and Borrego are both offense-first coaches. If the Cavs are looking for a defensive-minded leader, Vogel is the best one on the market, and he's the rare available candidate with a championship to his name. He didn't have the talent he needed defensively in Phoenix, but Mobley would give him a younger version of Anthony Davis, who he thrived within Los Angeles. Still, the concern for Vogel would come on offense. Reports indicated that the Cavaliers players were frustrated with Bickerstaff's offensive scheme. Similar reports leaked out of Phoenix regarding Vogel's offense, and he'd obviously have less to work with on that front in Cleveland. Those concerns might be why Borrego and Atkinson are the initial leaders here. Offense has been more of a problem in Cleveland than defense over the past several years.

Johnnie Bryant

This is the Mitchell-centric hire. Mitchell was a Utah Jazz assistant during the first few years of Mitchell's career. He eventually left to join Tom Thibodeau's staff in New York, and many assumed that hire was at least partially motivated by his relationship with Mitchell, as the two reportedly have a close relationship. When the Jazz were looking for a head coach in 2022, Marc Stein referred to Bryant as "a known favorite" of Mitchell's. Bryant has risen to associate head coach in New York, and he was at one time linked to the Nets for their head-coaching job before they settled on Jordi Fernandez. Still, a first-time head coach would be a risky hire for a Cleveland team eager to win now. If Bryant's hiring secures Mitchell's signature on an extension, though, that risk might be worth it.

JJ Redick

JJ Redick would appear to be an odd choice for Cleveland given his lack of experience. League-wide interest aside, the Cavaliers probably aren't the sort of team that should be hiring someone who has never coached on the NBA or collegiate level. They aren't a rebuilding team that is young enough to wait out his developmental window, nor are they an older winner with a stable locker room that would help him adjust. But there's a bit of gamesmanship at play here that's worth mentioning. Redick has been at the forefront of the Los Angeles Lakers search. Borrego and Atkinson, seemingly at the top of Cleveland's list for now, are also in the running for the Lakers job. The Lakers had a two-week head start on the Cavaliers in their search and are, therefore, probably closer to making a pick. It might behoove Cleveland to try to put a bit of pressure on the Lakers if they are indeed enamored with Redick by interviewing him and indicating that they might have competition for his services. If they want Borrego or Atkinson, their best-case scenario would be for the Lakers to hire Redick as soon as possible. Why not give them a little kick in the pants to try to make that happen?