Interesting Knicks twist emerges in Cavaliers' search for next head coach

Of course...
New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Donovan Mitchell
New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Donovan Mitchell / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The New York Knicks are expected to sign Tom Thibodeau to a well-deserved extension this summer, but he could be without his right-hand man next season. Cleveland fired J.B. Bickerstaff on Thursday after he led the team to back-to-back playoff appearances. Many believe the coach was fired to appease Donovan Mitchell, who could sign an extension this summer.

Mitchell's future will undoubtedly be considered as the Cavaliers select their next head coach. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that former Knicks assistant coach Kenny Atkinson is on Cleveland's radar, and The Athletic reported that James Borrego is also a candidate (subscription required).

On Friday, SNY's Ian Begley reported that the Cavaliers will also consider Knicks associate head coach Johnnie Bryant for the job. This isn't the first time that Bryant's name has popped up for a head coach vacancy, as he was a candidate to return to Utah in 2022 before the Jazz hired Will Hardy.

What makes Bryant's inclusion in Cleveland's search for its next head coach so interesting is his relationship with Mitchell. The 38-year-old was an assistant in Utah when the star guard was there, and the two share a close relationship.

Johnnie Bryant will be considered for Cavs head coach vacancy

Things have changed since two years ago, when New York aggressively pursued Mitchell but didn't want to offer three unprotected first-round picks. Begley has reported that if the guard doesn't sign an extension this summer and Cleveland listens to offers, the Knicks will not be "as aggressive" as they were in 2022.

The Cavaliers have been optimistic that Mitchell will sign a new deal to stay in Cleveland, although that isn't guaranteed. It'd certainly help if their new head coach were someone Mitchell trusts and respects. Bryant is one of the league's top assistants and deserves the opportunity to lead his team.

As exciting as it'd be for Bryant to receive his first head coaching role, it'd also be bittersweet for Knicks fans, especially if it happened with the Cavaliers.

If Cleveland wants to interview Bryant, New York must first grant permission. It's worth monitoring how the Cavs' search unfolds.