Cavaliers clear path for Lakers to hire former head coach to JJ Redick staff

The Cleveland Cavaliers have made a decision that clears the path for the Los Angeles Lakers to hire a rumored target for JJ Redick's coaching staff.
2024 NBA Finals - Game Two
2024 NBA Finals - Game Two / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers spent a whirlwind coaching search seemingly choosing between James Borrego, Dan Hurley, and JJ Redick. While Hurley received a contract offer, it was ultimately Redick who was hired as head coach.

While that has seemingly left Borrego on the outside looking in, a new development may have opened the door for him to end up in Los Angeles after all.

Borrego, 46, gained traction in the Lakers' coaching search due to the rapport he built with franchise player Anthony Davis. He simultaneously became a leading candidate for the Cleveland Cavaliers, which created an opening in the midst of Los Angeles' process.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Cavaliers have instead hired Kenny Atkinson to replace J.B. Bickerstaff as head coach.

By choosing Atkinson, the door may have been opened for the Lakers to hire Borrego after all, albeit in a different role.

James Borrego to the Lakers is still a possibility

Borrego has been coaching in the NBA since 2003. He won two championships as an assistant coach with Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs, and spent four seasons as head coach of the Charlotte Hornets.

During his stint in Charlotte, the team improved its record by 10 wins in two consecutive seasons, including a 43-39 finish in 2021-22, before he was unceremoniously let go.

The key to Borrego's success with the Hornets was his offensive innovation. In his final season at the helm, Charlotte ranked eighth in the NBA in offensive rating, fifth in three-point field goals made, and 11th in field goal percentage.

Borrego also helped LaMelo Ball win Rookie of the Year in 2020-21 and reach the All-Star Game the following season.

In Los Angeles, Borrego would bring vast experience and an understanding of how to score consistently in the modern NBA to Redick's staff. His emphasis on three-point shooting would fit with a Lakers team that's looking to improve from its ranking of 28th in attempts in 2023-24.

Unfortunately, there's one hurdle the Lakers will need to overcome before negotiations can gain any traction: Interest from the Detroit Pistons.

The opportunity to become a head coach again will likely take precedence for Borrego this summer. It's a redemption arc that's been in motion over the past two years, and Detroit would offer some level of familiarity.

In the event that Borrego doesn't become the next head coach of the Pistons, however, the Lakers could get their wish and hire him as a high-level assistant with Redick.