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Cavaliers GM Koby Altman Thanks Drew, Casts Wide Net For New Coach

Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman praised former coach Larry Drew, provided a bit more information on his departure, and said his front office team will begin whittling down a list of head coaching candidates Friday afternoon.

To start the Friday press conference, Altman said he wanted to pile on the complimentary release the team sent out Thursday on Drew's parting.

"It wasn't just this year," Altman said. "This is five years he's been with us, four years of a championship run. So this is a great relationship that I personally had with L.D., and I'm very, very thankful to him for what he did this year. Again, taking over a very difficult situation and turning into a largely positive situation, I think."

Altman says he spoke to the 61-year-old Drew Thursday and the two came to an agreement.

"He understood our standpoint in terms of us starting a search, and we understood his position in terms of him being a veteran coach and not wanting to be a part of that," Altman said.

Altman emphasized the team is looking for the right fit for the young roster, with an emphasis on player development.

"For moving forward, it has nothing to do with what Larry didn't do this year," Altman said. "It's more of a, for us, who's going to be the leader for this franchise moving forward and be a cultural driver, a teacher.

"We're going to get to know these candidates and it's a wide net," Altman said. "We're going to sit down with my front office now and sort of go over the list of names and try to narrow it down some, but we have a bunch of different boxes we're going to look at."

Altman was asked how close the Cavs are to interviewing candidates and started to give an answer, but corrected himself.

"Not close," Altman said, "Um, I shouldn't say that, I think we'll start where guys are available. Some on our list, there are some candidates on playoff teams. I'm going to be super sensitive to that."

Sixteen out of 30 NBA teams qualified for the playoffs, which start Saturday. This is the first year since 2014 the Cavaliers have not played in the postseason after finishing with a 19-63 record. 

Instead, the Cavs are hoping for more luck in the NBA Draft lottery, where they've landed the top pick four times since drafting LeBron James in 2003. But Altman says they won't wait until after the draft lottery to hire a coach, and he doesn't believe he needs to sell the job.

"We have tremendous resources," Altman said. "We are positioned really well for the future. We're going to draft a high impact player regardless of where the ping pong balls land, and so, all those things together are a big part of us being attractive."

Altman says the Cavs are in a much better position to return to contention than the last rebuild after James left in 2010. James returned to the Cavs after the 2013-2014 season and led the Cavs to four straight NBA Finals appearances, including a championship in 2016. James left for the Los Angeles Lakers last offseason, but also failed to qualify for the playoffs this year.

"When Kevin Love came back, we were competitive," Altman said. "We were playing competitive basketball. It was fun to watch, it actually spiked the growth of our young guys and Kevin is a big part of what we're doing in the future as well. We're a little bit ahead of schedule than we were last time of LeBron's departure, I think."

Love, a five-time NBA All-Star, missed 50 games this season with a foot injury. The struggling Cavs improved in an 8-8 stretch after he returned. Rookie Collin Sexton became a dynamic scorer in the second half of the season and averaged 16.7 points per game. Altman belives the core of Love, Sexton, Larry Nance Jr. and Cedi Osman, along with another high draft pick, can return the Cavs to contention, though he was hesitant to put a timeline on a playoff run.

The Cavs also own Houston's first round pick after the midseason trade of Alec Burks. The Rockets qualified for the playoffs as the fourth seed in the Western Conference, so that pick will come later in the first round.

Altman says he spoke to the players before the news of Drew's departure broke Thursday, and they may be involved in the search process.

"We will (ask them) if they've worked with these people before," Altman said. "They understood where I was going with (the coaching search) in terms of what I'm looking for, and I think they're excited about our vision."

Altman says there's no exact timeline to get a coach hired. The Cavaliers will learn their draft position May 14.



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