LeBron James has already played for three head coaches in his first seven years. Regardless where he ends up next season, he'll play for No. 4.
As the Cavaliers begin another coaching search, the list of candidates varies from the glamorous (Phil Jackson) to no-name assistants looking for their first big break (Tom Thibodeau).
The Cavaliers will essentially be working off two separate coaching lists — one if James remains in Cleveland and one if he does not. For that reason, don't expect the new coach to be hired anytime soon.
If LeBron stays: Phil Jackson The current Lakers coach and owner of 10 championship rings could be closing in on his 11th in a few weeks. But Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss is tired of paying Jackson in excess of $10 million per season and would like to slice his salary considerably. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has never let money stop him before and would provide whatever Jackson needed to come to Cleveland. But Gilbert can't make it sunny and warm in January.
Jackson's chronic back condition has deteriorated to where he struggles walking and must sit in an elevated chair courtside. His health, and cold Cleveland winters, may prohibit him from leaving sunny L.A. — even if James remains a Cavalier.
Mike Krzyzewski The Duke legend has been courted by NBA teams in the past, but always refused to leave Durham. If there is a combination that could change his mind, it might be LeBron James and Danny Ferry. Krzyzewski and James formed a bond during Team USA's gold medal performance two years ago, while Ferry was a key figure in guiding Krzyzewski's Blue Devils to the Final Four three times in the late 1980s.
Krzyzewski, 63, is coming off his fourth national championship. With 11 Final Four appearances (second-most all time) and his college coaching legacy secure, this could be his last chance to give the NBA a shot.
John Calipari Despite denials he is leaving Kentucky, Calipari has to be considered a strong candidate for whichever team lands James. The two share the same agent and have an extremely close relationship — James considers Cal to be part of his inner circle "family." Therefore, James spends a lot of time on UK's campus. Maverick Carter, one of the most powerful voices of James' inner circle, refuted last week that James is looking for a package deal somewhere alongside Calipari. But now Cleveland just happens to have an opening, and Calipari just might get a call.
Calipari went 72-112 in parts of three seasons with the New Jersey Nets in the late '90s. The Nets squeezed into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed under Calipari in 1998, but were swept out of the playoffs in three games by the Bulls. He was fired the following season following a 3-17 start.
Byron Scott Scott boasts the best NBA resume of all available candidates, leading the Nets to consecutive Finals appearances in '02 and '03. He was fired by the New Orleans Hornets this season after a 3-6 start and has a 352-355 career record over parts of 10 seasons.
He won three NBA championships as a player with the Lakers during the '80s.
Others of note: Avery Johnson, Jeff Van Gundy, Lenny Wilkens
If LeBron leaves: Tom Thibodeau Before the start of the Cavs-Celtics series, Boston coach Doc Rivers was perplexed at how Thibodeau hadn't been snatched up yet as a head coach. With six vacancies now, his time is likely here. The Celtics are making Orlando look just as foolish and lazy as the Cavaliers looked, and Thibodeau is a defensive whiz much like Brown.
Dean Demopoulos The top assistant to Nate McMillan in Portland, Demopoulos filled in admirably this year while McMillan was recovering from surgery on his torn Achilles. Demopoulos was expected to have a phone interview last week with the Hawks, who are also searching for a new coach.
Bill Laimbeer Former Pistons "Bad Boy" won three WNBA titles in Detroit. Now he's an assistant on the Timberwolves' staff still looking for his first NBA job. Laimbeer was originally drafted by the Cavaliers in 1979.
Others of note: Mike Malone (current Cavs assistant), Mike Budenholzer, Dwayne Casey
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