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Cleveland Cavaliers coaching search: Brian Shaw, Stan Van Gundy, Alvin Gentry among possible candidates

With Chris Grant having said today that the head coach search starts immediately for the Cavaliers, let's take a look at who's available.

Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

So far there has been quite a bit of speculation about who the next Cavalier coach will be, ranging all the way from Phil Jackson to Brian Shaw to other assistants. Let's hash out all of the candidates.

Speculated Names

In his article reporting the story, Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal mentioned quite a few names:

Now the search will begin for his replacement. With perhaps as many as 10 head coaching jobs opening this offseason, the Cavs are expected to move quickly. Candidates they could have an interest in include Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Malone, Miami Heat assistant David Fizdale and former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. Even former coach Mike Brown - as far-fetched as it may seem on the surface - cannot be dismissed as a candidate to return.

Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein said this about Phil Jackson:

But NBA coaching sources say that stance will not dissuade teams with openings from approaching Jackson this offseason to gauge his interest, with the Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers -- who interviewed Jackson in 2005 and are known to be contemplating a coaching change -- potentially at the top of the list.

SBNation's own Seth Pollack has one idea:


So with a lot of names right there alone, let's take a look at each:

Brian Shaw: Shaw is in his second year as "associate head coach" with the Indiana Pacers at the moment -- after seven seasons as an assistant with the Lakers -- and has been regarded as a future head coach since retiring in 2003. He's known to be a good influence on younger players, as seen by his days with the Lakers in the mid-2000s. His offensive philosophy appears influenced by the triangle, but he's not beholden to running it without the right personnel. He doesn't appear to have any sort of defensive credentials that I know of, so he may not be the best guy to get the most out of the defense.

Mike Malone: Malone is a former Cavs' assistant that is now in his second season with the Golden State Warriors. Brought in to help Mark Jackson with defensive schemes and systems, Malone was the highest paid assistant coach in the NBA last season. He's been one of the driving forces behind the Warriors' defensive improvement, going from a DRating of 113.3 in 2009 to a 105.5 DRating this season. Also, his connection with LeBron James cannot be forgotten if the goal is to persuade him to come back to Cleveland next summer. Overall, he's an extremely strong candidate for this position given his credentials and Cleveland connection.

David Fizdale: Fizdale is a Miami Heat assistant coach. Prior to Miami, he was an assistant in Atlanta who was responsible for youth development during Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford's early years (2004-2008). Specifically in Miami, Fizdale has worked with James on refining his post skills and works pretty extensively on the defense with the rest of the coaching staff. One thing worth mentioning is that he turned down an interview with Portland last season, seemingly because he is content in Miami.

Stan Van Gundy: Van Gundy is pretty much everyone's favorite jolly unemployed coach (even if he's never really that jolly). Van Gundy is a defensive coach that is partially responsible for the defensive animal that Dwight Howard was in Orlando (the other thing responsible: genetics). However, his offensive system relies a lot on shooting (so there might not be a fit with this roster) and there is really no indication that he'd be willing to actually coach in Cleveland. I'm not sure this one is plausible, but he's probably the second best coach available.

Mike Brown: I really can't see this front office re-hiring Brown. Yeah, he's a defensive coach. Yeah, he has a connection to the team. Yeah, he's got a great coaching record. But does anyone really think he's the guy to get the most out of Kyrie Irving? What about continuing to improve Tristan Thompson's post game. The defense would see an immediate improvement, but I'm not sure he's worth the offensive ineptitude that we saw in Los Angeles this year. Plus, if this front office is gearing towards a James pitch, are they really about to bring back Brown (Ed note: more on this in a separate post)?

Phil Jackson: Probably the best basketball coach of all time, and the Cavs would obviously welcome him with open arms (and Dan Gilbert would probably welcome him with about $8 million per season). However, I'm not sure the triangle offense would work particularly well with this team because of the lack of off-ball movement portrayed by the Cavs this year, plus I'm not sure they have the passing big men needed outside of Anderson Varejao. The Cavs would obviously take their chances that it would work, but there are a lot more question marks than answers with Jackson and the Cavs.

Alvin Gentry: Gentry was fired by the Suns earlier this season after they decided to go in a different direction with the team. One of the reasons he was fired, according to John Gambadoro, was that Gentry's skill set wasn't a fit with developing younger talent. So while he does have head coaching experience in the past, he might not be the best fit for this job if that's the case.

Other Names

I'm just going to roll through some other guys that could see their name connected with the job in the future, and a quick pro and con with each.

Nate McMillan: Pro - would immediately help the defense. Con - similar to Scott, had locker room tune him out before being fired from Portland

Scott Skiles: Pro - another defensive coach that would immediately help. Con - he's crazy.

Maurice Cheeks: Pro - has been instrumental in the improvement of Russell Westbrook. Con - middling past head coaching record.

Mike Budenholzer: Pro - two decades of experience with Gregg Popovich. Con - still hasn't gotten a head job even though he's interviewed numerous times.

Tom Izzo: Pro - Cavs talked to him last time the head job came available. Con - he's not leaving Michigan State.

Lester Conner: Pro - Atlanta assistant known for defense and communication with young players. Con - no head coaching experience, his nickname is "The Molester."

Kaleb Canales: Pro - crazy hard worker that would be able to connect with young players. Also has head coaching experience last year. Con - still only 34, might not be his time yet.

Dave Joerger: Pro - Memphis assistant who has hand in their defensive schemes. Con - no head coaching experience, little NBA experience.

As it becomes more clear who the real candidates are, I'll probably revisit this and give a prediction. One thing we can be sure of after Chris Grant's press conference this afternoon is that they will be looking for a more defensive coach. But right now it's still a little bit too unclear as to who the next coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers might be.