Johnnie Bryant will join Cleveland Cavaliers as an associate head coach

Basketball: Cleveland's new coach Kenny Atkinson is expected to add assistant Johnnie Bryant from the New York Knicks to his staff. Bryant will take on the role of associate head coach.

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Varun Sarwate
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Cleveland's new coach Kenny Atkinson is expected to add assistant Johnnie Bryant from the New York Knicks to his staff. Bryant will take on the role of associate head coach, as per a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity since the Cavaliers have not made the announcement. Bryant interviewed for the position prior to Atkinson being hired.

Bryant will rejoin Cleveland with Cavs All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell. They spent many years together at Utah, and Mitchell frequently credits the 29-year-old Bryant with helping him improve his game.

This week, Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers came to a three-year, $150.3 million contract extension. His choice was made just a few days after Atkinson, a former Brooklyn coach who had served as Golden State's assistant for the previous three seasons, was hired by Cleveland. 

Bryant spent six seasons with the Jazz. He traveled to New York in 2020, when it looked like Mitchell might be traded to the Knicks before the Cavs made a blockbuster deal to get the 27-year-old. Atkinson is still assembling his team, but he has already hired former Lakers assistant Jordan Ott and former NBA player DeMarre Carroll. Ott is now coaching Cleveland's Summer League club in Las Vegas.

Donovan Mitchell signs new contract 

Another major issue is Bryant's tight connection with freshly extended Cavaliers standout Donovan Mitchell. Their connection dates back to their tenure with the Utah Jazz in 2017-22. Bryant has been on the Utah staff since 2012 when he worked as a player development assistant. Bryant stayed with the Jazz until 2022 when he was hired by the Knicks amid their chase of Mitchell.

Thibodeau has made some adjustments to the staff since taking charge in 2020. Bryant, Mike Woodson, and Kenny Payne all departed to work elsewhere. Mo Cheeks joined this summer. Following their second-round playoff elimination, the Cavaliers sacked J.B. Bickerstaff and hired Atkinson, the former Netts coach.

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