Basketball / Sports

Cavaliers look to rookies, veterans in coach search

While the Cleveland Cavaliers spent Thursday with Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and prepared to host fellow Clippers assistant Alvin Gentry on Friday, the early candidate pool can be divided into two clear categories: rookie coaches and veterans looking for one more job.

Adrian Griffin, 39, and the 37-year-old Lue were the first two candidates to interview. Neither has been a head coach before, and both enjoyed anonymous-yet-lengthy careers in the NBA before coaching. But this upcoming Cavs season could be daunting for a first-time coach.

The Cavs already fired a general manager and coach once because the team failed to meet expectations. They were expected to contend for the playoffs last season after winning the No. 1 pick in a terrible draft last spring and upgrading the roster through free agency.

Chris Grant was fired in February when the team was struggling and Mike Brown was fired after the season on the same day David Griffin was named general manager.

Now it only seems expectations will be the same, if not higher, for this season now that they've yet again won the No. 1 pick in a loaded draft. Ownership, however, will have to exhibit patience if the team chooses an assistant with no previous head coaching experience.

Brown did what was asked of him. He improved the defense, but was still fired nine months after he was rehired.

In Lue, the Cavs seem to be searching for the next Doc Rivers. It makes sense, since Lue has been with the well-liked and highly respected Rivers both with the Boston Celtics and the Clippers. But Rivers didn't win more than 45 games during any of his first eight years as a head coach and his teams never advanced beyond the first round until the Big Three were assembled in Boston.

It often takes time -- and patience -- for young coaches to find their voice and rhythm as leaders. After falling shy of the postseason again this season, it seems appropriate the playoffs will be a realistic requirement for next season.

At the other end of the Cavs' early search is the 59-year-old Gentry and 60-year-old Lionel Hollins, who will meet with the Cavs over the weekend. Both have been head coaches previously and are eager to get back into the business.

There are sure to be more names in the coming days, including perhaps a handful of college coaches. Thus far, however, the Cavs' search has focused on opposite sides: the young and the old.

HETZEL TO HORNETS: The Charlotte Hornets will hire Canton Charge coach Steve Hetzel to be an assistant, Yahoo Sports reported on Thursday. Hetzel guided the Charge to a 28-22 finish and first-round loss in the Development League playoffs during his only season with the team.

Hetzel replaced Alex Jensen, who was the team's first coach before he was hired away by the Utah Jazz prior to last season.

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