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The View From Pluto: Who Might Dan Gilbert Choose As Next Cavs Coach?

a photo of Dan Gilbert
For Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, previous head coaching experience is not required.

For the fifth time since 2013, the Cavs are looking for a new head coach after parting ways last week with Larry Drew. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto said it is hard to predict what team owner Dan Gilbert might want in his next coach.


The revolving door
Cavs fans may feel like there has been a revolving door for coaches.  Terry Pluto said that is never a good thing.

“They have coaches who have won and been fired.  They have coaches who have lost and been fired. And they’re looking for another one.”


As for what’s in Dan Gilbert’s mind when it comes to picking the next head coach, it’s clear that Gilbert is focused on more than just past NBA coaching experience.  His first hire after buying the team was Mike Brown, which Pluto said gives some insight into Gilbert’s mind. 


“Gilbert comes out, introduces Mike Brown, and Gilbert is holding a clock at the press conference,” Pluto said.  When asked what was up with the clock, he replied “Well, Mike Brown is on the clock.”  Pluto says Gilbert thought this was funny.


Brown had been an assistant with several different teams.  Pluto said he asked Gilbert if this bothered him, that Brown had no head coaching experience.  Gilbert’s response:  “Experience doing what? Experience being mediocre?  Experience trying to save your job and not building anything?" Pluto said Gilbert’s belief is that experience is neutral and he has heard that is how Gilbert runs his businesses.


Pluto said Gilbert is the only guy to hire a head coach straight from Europe (David Blatt.)  Despite going to the NBA finals in 2015 and having the winningest record in the NBA at the start of the next season, Gilbert fired Blatt because he felt he wasn’t going to get Cleveland a title.  He then elevated assistant coach Tyronn Lue to the head coaching spot.  What this says about Gilbert, according to Pluto, is that he’s unpredictable  and that some decisions have worked out, some haven’t.  “Dan would counter that by saying ‘my David Blatt/Tyronn Lue combination went to four NBA finals and won one title. How bad could it have been?’”


Hunches on the top candidates
Pluto mentioned Nate Tibbetts who’s been an assistant with the Cavs previously as one possible prospect. Another possibility is Jamal Mosely who’s been an assistant with Cleveland and other teams. He said they are probably viewed as hot young coaches, perhaps the next Tyronn Lue. Pluto said he knows the Cavs like Monty Williams, previously a head coach with New Orleans who stepped away from the NBA for a few years to take care of his kids following the death of his wife in a car crash. He has since come back as an assistant. Then there’s the out-of-the-box possibility.  In 2014 it was David Blatt. This time around it could be Becky Hammonwho’s been an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs and previously played in the WNBA.


Scoring the interview
Pluto only half-jokes about what it would be like if he could interview to be the next head coach of the Cavs.  “I would love to go on one of these interviews. I would be curious what they would ask.” He believes there could be some very interesting questions and would provide some insight into what makes Dan Gilbert so successful. Pluto said he’s not against the idea of giving people a shot at doing something they haven’t done before, “because all of us, at some point have reached any level, someone has said ‘I think that’s the guy, or I think that’s the woman right there.  We’ve never had a woman in that job before, and she hasn’t done that job before, but based on what she’s done there… I think she could be the one, and all of a sudden, it works out.”

Andrew Meyer is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.