Cavs approach to coaching hire should remind Lakers to keep priorities in order

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers have been linked to the same head coaching candidates. Yet one approach seems more logical than the other.
Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets
Orlando Magic v Charlotte Hornets / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly favoring two candidates in the search for a new head coach. JJ Redick is widely expected to become the new sideline leader in Los Angeles, but James Borrego is reportedly a more serious option than the widespread narrative would suggest.

As the Cleveland Cavaliers dip into the same talent pool as the Lakers, an ideological difference is beginning to rear its head.

Cleveland and Los Angeles have been linked to an interesting group of candidates for their respective head coaching vacancies. In terms of the individuals in whom there is shared interest, however, two names consistently seem to arise: Borrego and Micah Nori.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Nori has spoken with both the Cavaliers and the Lakers for their head coaching vacancies.

In a separate report, Wojnarowski spoke to the interest that both Cleveland and Los Angeles have expressed in Borrego.

"The Cleveland Cavaliers are beginning the interview process for the franchise's head-coaching opening, securing permission to interview two top candidates on the team's list: Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson and New Orleans assistant James Borrego, sources told ESPN on Wednesday...Borrego is a serious candidate in the Lakers' search, which included a second interview with the team's front office in Los Angeles on Wednesday, sources told ESPN."

Despite the interest in similar candidates, however, the priorities in Cleveland and Los Angeles seem to be wildly different.

Borrego is a somewhat proven commodity as a head coach, having spent four seasons at the helm with the Charlotte Hornets. He boasts 20 years of NBA coaching experience overall, including 10 years across two stints as an assistant coach with Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs.

During that time, Borrego earned the reputation of an offensive mastermind, with his Hornets team showcasing intriguing potential after finishing eighth in offensive rating in 2021-22.

As for Nori, he's been one of the breakout stars among the current assistant coaches in the NBA. He has 15 years of experience overall, but it's been his work over the past three seasons as the lead assistant to Chris Finch with the Minnesota Timberwolves that has led to an increase in notoriety.

Nori is heralded as one of the top player development coaches in the NBA, as well as a wise offensive strategist who emphasizes movement both on and off the ball.

Redick, meanwhile, has yet to gain coaching experience at the professional or collegiate levels. He's earned positive marks for his time as an analyst and podcaster, including his time as a co-host of the Mind The Game podcast with Lakers superstar LeBron James.

Some in Los Angeles reportedly view Redick in the same light as a young Pat Riley, who, of course, went on to lead the Showtime Lakers.

That's an ambitious comparison that even the most promising of head coaching candidates would likely resent being burdened with. Regardless, Redick has a connection to the Lakers organization and has been interviewed by other franchises in the past.

It's entirely possible that he'll even become a high-level NBA head coach, following in the footsteps of the countless former players who managed similar success.

As the Lakers seemingly move on from player development specialists and hone in on a coach without experience, however, trepidation is inevitable. A 48-win Cavaliers team that reached the second round of the playoffs is emphasizing continued player development, while the Lakers seem fixated on making a splash.

That splash may ultimately pan out, but one can't help but feel as though the attention given to other viable coaching options has been minimal if not outright forced.

Again, it's essential to note that Redick is not a bad choice for the Lakers just because he lacks experience. It simply feels like the type of home-run swing that sacrifices form for power, as Los Angeles fixates on winning one last time with the Anthony Davis and LeBron James pairing.

Redick—and for that matter, any other coaching candidate—deserves the opportunity to prove that they can handle the job. The Lakers will simply only empower them to succeed if they emphasize growth beyond the limited reach of their superstar pairing.