INDEPENDENCE — A day after the Cavaliers and coach Larry Drew agreed to a mutual parting of ways, General Manager Koby Altman emphasized that fit was the leading criterion for selecting who next will lead the young team.

And with the team missing the postseason — not unexpectedly given the departure of LeBron James — for the first time in four years, the organization has the luxury of time to get it right.

“In terms of moving forward, I think it's important to find a leader who's in it for the long haul that really wants to be part of Cleveland, our city and this team and help us grow — help us grow every day,” Altman said Friday morning at the team’s practice facility at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “I think we have to be obsessed with the process of getting better and not so much results driven. That's the person I need to find.”

However, other considerations exist and, given the team’s relative youth with an average age of 26.6 years, player development will be essential.

With the progress already shown by Larry Nance Jr., whose stats improved across the board, and forward Cedi Osman and the blooming of rookie point guard Collin Sexton after the All-Star break, Altman wants to ensure that continues.

“I think we've seen immense growth from our young guys because of that focus we had on it ... us setting the stage for the guys is a huge deal to me and then putting it together,” he said. “That's going to be a big part of who we bring in and it's going to be a big part of what they do.”

It would seem that Drew played an essential role in those players’ improvement. Yet, he’s now gone.

“He showed and improved what we needed for this year,” Altman said. “For moving forward, it was nothing to do with what Larry didn't do this year. It's more, for us, who's going to be the leader for this franchise moving forward and be the cultural driver, be a teacher and be ... aligned with us.”

What isn’t an absolute in a new coach? NBA head-coaching experience. Altman admitted having it would provide some data on which to base a decision, but he recognized there are some up-and-coming coaches who might be worth a look.

The plan for the front office is to refine the list of potential coaches and, as for a timetable, Altman said he's cognizant of the start of the NBA playoffs.

“I think we'll start when guys are available,” he said. “Some in our list, candidates are on playoff teams. I'm going to be super sensitive to that. Us being done this early affords us some time to really think this out and do it the right way.”

Part of the right way is not relying on the team’s draft position to lure candidates. The Cavs’ 19-63 record ensured them one of the three worst records in the league, putting them in a prime position in the May 14 draft lottery and giving them an equal opportunity to land the top pick in a draft that includes Duke’s Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett and Murray State’s Ja Morant. The Cavs won a tiebreaker coin toss with the Phoenix Suns and they can pick no lower than No. 6. They then lost a tiebreaker that leaves their second first-round pick at No. 26.

“I think on its own merits, I think we have tremendous resources. We are positioned really well for the future. We are going to draft a high-impact player regardless of where the pingpong balls land,” Altman said. “So, all those things together are a big part of us being an attractive destination. But I'll say this: We're not going to sell our job. The person that's right for this job is really going to want to be here.”

Draft talk

If Altman has identified the player the Cavs want in the draft, he’s not telling. One thing he did say is that Sexton's development won’t play a role in whom the team selects. He said Sexton has become more efficient in his play.

“Could he play with several of those draft picks? Absolutely,” he said.

Trade talk

Altman revealed he received a phone call about JR Smith’s suddenly team-friendly contract, given it only has a partial guarantee of $3.9 million for next season.

George M. Thomas can be reached at gmthomas@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByGeorgeThomas.