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Vitaly Potapenko leaves Cavs for Grizzlies coaching staff

The ex-NBA center has been with Cleveland since 2013.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Vitaly Potapenko is leaving the Cavs to join the Grizzlies coaching staff under JB Bickerstaff. Potapenko has been with Cleveland since 2013, primarily working in player development.

While Potapenko is not one of the team’s lead assistants under head coach Tyronn Lue, the Cavs will miss what he provided. A former NBA center who played for the Cavs, Celtics, SuperSonics and Kings, Potapenko used that experience to work with the team’s bigs. This past season, he spent a lot of time working with rookie center Ante Zizic as Zizic acclimated to the NBA from Europe. Pregame and at practice, Potapenko worked with Zizic one-on-one and helped him go from a player who looked overwhelmed at the start of the year to much more comfortable when he saw some playing time in March. Potapenko is not irreplaceable, but it will be an adjustment.

The Cavs have not yet confirmed Potapenko’s departure.