CLEVELAND (AP) — Lucky in the NBA lottery, the Cavaliers are hoping their good fortune continues as they look for a new coach.
The team asked the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday for permission to speak with assistant coach Alvin Gentry about Cleveland’s coaching vacancy, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press.
Gentry, who has coached four other franchises, has not yet set up a meeting with the Cavs, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not commenting on its search. The sides are working through some details, and are expected to meet in the next few days.
Earlier this week, the Cavs defied long odds to win the draft lottery for the second year in a row and third time in four years. Cleveland is seeking its third coach in three years after Mike Brown was fired — for the second time by owner Dan Gilbert — last week following a 33-49 season.
Gentry worked previously in Phoenix with Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, who said there is no timetable to hire a new coach.
“We do not feel this is a race,” he said. “This is not about being first. This is about getting it right. At the same time, if the right candidate did meet the criteria that we set out and is available and is as interested in us as we are in them, we would act on it at the time it presented itself.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer was first to report the Cavs’ intentions to interview Gentry.
The Cavs are not limiting themselves to coaches with pro experience and are expected to reach out to college coaches.
Having the No. 1 overall pick has certainly made them a more attractive destination. However, Gilbert’s penchant for firing GMs and coaches would have to make any candidate at least hesitant about coming to Cleveland.
Brown was told to make the Cavs better defensively, and did so as the team went from last in the league in defensive field-goal percentage to 12th. Still, that wasn’t enough as Cleveland missed the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
Gentry has solid qualifications and is believed to be a candidate for other openings.
He has a 335-370 record in 12 seasons with Miami, Detroit, the Clippers and Phoenix. He led the Pistons and Suns to the postseason.
Griffin said he hopes to find a coach more attuned to his offensive roots. With the team expected to land one of the best players in what is considered a deep draft along with All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and guard Dion Waiters, the Cavs could have the core for a high-scoring team.
“I’ve had a primarily offensive based focus with the people I was raised by,” Griffin said. “And I think it’s fair to say the Cavaliers have had a defensive focus. What excited me most about coming here is that I believe you find the truth in the middle. No franchise that’s incredibly well run is all one thing. We need to find a way to speak to the best of all parts of the offensive background I know, the defensive background that’s dyed in the wool of this franchise.
“Ownership believes in defense, I believe in offense, and there’s a truth in the middle. We’re going to find that.”