After the Cleveland Cavaliers fired head coach JB Bickerstaff on Thursday morning, speculation quickly turned toward who the Cavs would hire to lead the team next season.

An early front-runner for the job, according to the odds at Bovada, is James Borrego – currently an associate head coach with the New Orleans Pelicans – at +300. Following Borrego is Boston Celtics assistant Sam Cassell at +400 and Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson at +500.

Known for his developmental skills, particularly with players in the frontcourt, Borrego would be an interesting name for the Cavs to consider given their position in the Eastern Conference. He is also known for his offensive approach to the game, an area the Cavs certainly need to expand upon. The 46-year-old head coach has also received interest from the Lakers this offseason for their head coaching vacancy.

Cassell has been a lead assistant with a few other franchises since 2009. He has notably served under Doc Rivers with the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers. Cassell would receive Mitchell's support.

The one trait that sticks out regarding Cassell is that he is a former player who is able to connect with his team. Every player always speaks highly of Cassell, and he has been regarded as a very player-friendly coach. It is a little surprising that he has not landed a head coaching gig yet, especially given that he has interviewed for several positions throughout the years. Cassell has been named a key candidate for the Lakers vacancy this offseason.

Not only does Atkinson have prior head coaching experience with the Brooklyn Nets, but he has prior relationships with Cavs players Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert as a result. Atkinson has been coaching in the NBA since 2008, and he has been with the Golden State Warriors since the start of the 2021-22 season.

Cavs fire JB Bickerstaff despite playoff series win

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff looks on against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Kia Center.
© Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the defensive success and support from ownership that Bickerstaff enjoyed, the Cavs have consistently struggled to find an offensive identity under their recently departed coach. At times, they became too reliant on either Darius Garland or Donovan Mitchell to carry the entirety of the offense, with opposing defenses settling in and flustering them, forcing other players to try and step up and support them.

Additionally, soon after the Cavs' postseason exit against the Celtics, reports surfaced about disconnect in the locker room about how Bickerstaff coached the team and the offense. Those issues included Mitchell's apparent lack of confidence in the coach, so it's not a big surprise that the decision was made to let Bickerstaff go after that information came out.

Despite his apparent flaws during his time with the Cavs, Bickerstaff still deserves some credit since he helped grow and develop this team into what it is today. But with the organization at a possible crossroads regarding its future with Mitchell, it seems like the best course of action for Cleveland to begin their search for a new presence at head coach that can transform them from an up-and-coming NBA Playoff hopeful to an actual, legitimate NBA contender.