It was a surprising twist in the coaching search for the Cleveland Cavaliers for the team to announce the hire of John Beilein. The team has their head coach for the future and now the focus shifts to rounding out his staff.
There was no announcement of a lead assistant at the time of the hire, unlike when the team hired David Blatt and Tyronn Lue five years ago. But history may end up repeating itself to some extent, as it seems the Cavs may hire someone they interviewed for head coach as a lead assistant.
This ideal was mentioned by Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal:
League source said it's possible one of NBA assistants interviewed by #Cavs could be hired as associate head coach under John Beilein.— Marla Ridenour (@MRidenourABJ) May 13, 2019
If the team does go this way, it’s probably important to make note of timeline of events. With no announcement now, it may indicate that Beilein will have some influence over who is selected as a lead assistant. There likely would be follow-up interviews with candidates that are interested in this arrangement.
By going this route, it’s more likely that the two coaches would have the chance to be collaborative, rather than create an internal adversarial relationship.
Having a coach learning under Beilein could benefit both the assistant as well as the head coach in this scenario. There will be an adjustment coming from the NCAA to the NBA and assisting in a smooth transition will be key. In addition to that, grooming a younger candidate that would receive a promotion from their current job may assist in their eventual transition to a head coaching job. Regardless of whether or not that opportunity comes in Cleveland or elsewhere.
The coach in waiting scenario didn’t work out well last time for the Cavaliers, as Lue probably would have been the better choice for a LeBron James team from the start. But without championship expectations and the added pressure LeBron adds to any situation, this could be a great development opportunity for both the players and the coaches to learn together.