Coaching update further points to Golden State Warriors losing key figure

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets
Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets / Tim Warner/GettyImages

The Golden State Warriors could be on the verge of losing key assistant coach Kenny Atkinson as the Cleveland Cavaliers continue their search for a replacement for the recently fired J.B. Bickerstaff.

Bickerstaff was ousted last week after the Cavaliers were defeated by the Boston Celtics in the second-round of the playoffs, with the 45-year-old having led Cleveland over the past five years.

Golden State Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson has been granted permission to interview for the Cleveland Cavaliers vacant top job

Atkinson quickly emerged as a lead contender to replace Bickerstaff, with the Cavaliers now securing permission to further the interview process with Steve Kerr's assistant according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowksi.

Current New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego will also interview for the role, though he's already a strong contender to replace Darvin Ham as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Atkinson was chosen to replace Borrego as head coach of the Charlotte Hornets in 2022, but chose to remain as an assistant with the Warriors shortly after they defeated the Boston Celtics to claim the NBA championship.

The 56-year-old coached the Nets for four years from 2016 to 2020, finishing with a 118-190 win-loss record in 308 games, including leading the franchise to a first-round playoff exit in 2019. After passing on the Hornets job, Atkinson was linked to but failed to win head coaching roles at the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets last season.

Following his departure from the Nets, Atkinson was an assistant under Ty Lue at the LA Clippers before joining Steve Kerr's staff where he's been a key figure at the Warriors over the past three seasons.

Many are now awaiting to see what impact a new head coach in Cleveland will have on the team's roster, with significant change expected despite back-to-back playoff appearances in the last two seasons.

The Cavaliers will try to sign Donovan Mitchell to a contract extension, which if succesful could lead to the trade of back court teammate Darius Garland. The front court pairing of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen could also be split up, with the Warriors a potential team to monitor should the latter become available.