Since becoming a professional team back in 1970, the Cleveland Cavaliers have an overall record of 1,867-2,168. The Cavs have made the playoffs 22 times and captured one NBA title. That happened back in 2016 when LeBron James and Kyrie Irving made history by leading the Cavs on a 3-1 comeback against the Golden State Warriors.
Without LeBron, the Cavs would have practically zero postseason success. However, Cleveland has been home to some of the best coaches the game of basketball has ever seen. It’s just that not every Cavs coach was blessed with the luxury of having James on their team.
For this piece, we ranked the four best Cavs coaches in franchise history, starting off with a guy who has the fourth-most wins in Cleveland coaching history.
4. Mike Fratello
Fratello coached the Cavs for six seasons in the 1990’s. He compiled a regular season record of 248-212 but a postseason mark of just 2-12.
Cleveland made the postseason four times under Fratello but they just never had any success. Fratello’s regular-season winning percentage of .539 is good for fifth place in Cavs franchise history in the coaching record books.
3. Lenny Wilkens
Wilkens led the Cavs for seven seasons. He’s the second-longest tenured head coach in franchise history behind only Bill Fitch, who coached Cleveland for nine years.
Wilkens won a franchise-record 316 games with the Cavs during the regular season. Lenny also led Cleveland to 18 postseason wins. He’s got the third-most playoff wins for a Cavs head coach.
2. Mike Brown
Brown coached the Cavs for six years. He had the privilege of coaching James during The King’s first stint with Cleveland.
Brown won 305 games with the Cavs. He’s got the second-most wins in Cleveland coaching history. Brown was able to win 42 games with the Wine and Gold in the postseason. He and LeBron led the Cavs to the 2007 NBA Finals, where a young King James was humbled and swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Brown won Coach of the Year in 2008-09. He guided Cleveland to a record of 66-16. That’s the most games any Cavs team has ever won.
1. Tyronn Lue
The Cavs replaced David Blatt with Lue in January of 2016 and the rest is history.
Cleveland won the title that season, becoming the first team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 series deficit in the Finals. It was the franchise’s first title ever.
From 2016-19, Lue won 128 games during the regular season behind the stellar play of LeBron, Irving and Kevin Love. The Cavs went to three straight Finals under Lue, going 1-2. The Warriors signed Kevin Durant after the 2016 Finals loss and became impossible to defeat.
Lue finished his Wine and Gold coaching career with a playoff record of 41-20. He was fired in October 2018 after LeBron left Cleveland for Los Angeles. He’s currently with the Los Angeles Clippers as an assistant coach.
The Cavs’ current coach is J.B. Bickerstaff. He replaced John Beliein, who was a disaster with Cleveland and clearly wasn’t ready to make the jump from college to the pros. The former Michigan head coach lasted only 54 games in the NBA before resigning.
The Cavs have already given Bickerstaff an extension. Now, the franchise has to surround him with more talented players if the organization is going to find success in the second post-LeBron era. The best players in Cleveland right now are Love, Andre Drummond and Collin Sexton.
Before the 2019-20 season was suspended due to COVID-19, Cleveland had the worst record in the East.