NUGGETS

Cavs get permission to interview Nuggets top assistant coach

Jun 4, 2024, 12:26 PM | Updated: 1:11 pm

David Adelman is getting closer and closer to landing a head coaching job, as the Denver Nuggets have allowed their top assistant coach to interview for the opening with the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to ESPN.

Michael Malone’s coaching tree already has spread this summer with former right-hand man Jordi Fernandez getting a head coaching job with the Nets. Wes Unseld Jr., who lost the lead role with Washington caught back on with the Bulls. Now Micah Nori is a candidate for a few jobs and so too is Adelman, who also interviewed for the Lakers opening.

Adelman, who is in his seventh season working under Malone on the Nuggets staff, is the son of Hall of Famer Rick Adelman, who led the Portland Trail Blazers from 1989-1994 and then was the head coach of Golden State, Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota. The younger Adelman got his first NBA gig working for his father and the Timberwolves.

Adelman, 42, has filled in several times for Malone in the past few years. He’s the go-to guy if the head man gets run by a referee, as did happen earlier in the 2023-24 season in Chicago. Adelman also had an extended stint as the acting head coach during the 2022-23 championship season, when Malone was sidelined with an illness.

Players have raved about the former Trail Blazers ball boy who would listen to his father’s halftime speeches growing up in Oregon.

“I really think he’s the guy who’s going to be the next head coach because he has that head for a head coach,” Nikola Jokic said after Adelman picked up his first win in January of 2023. “He is thinking in front, he knows answers, and he reads and reacts.”

“Us players, we wanted to show him love,” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said back then.

When not actually leading the Nuggets in totality, Adelman is focused on the Nikola Jokic-led offense, which has been one of the best while the coach has been on Malone’s bench. This led Adelman to get interest from the Toronto Raptors last summer, and who ended up hiring former Serbian national team assistant Darko Rajakovic and Hornets a few weeks ago, they opted for Boston assistant Charles Lee.

Lee is staying with Boston through their playoff run, as too would Adelman and Nori, who squared off in the Nuggets series against the Wolves. Nori is Chris Finch’s top assistant and the two worked together under Malone in Denver. Nori has literally stepped up for Minny since Finch is unable to walk the sidelines in this second-round series.

Malone was an assistant in Cleveland for over half a decade and his father Brendan Malone also worked for the Cavs. The Adelmans don’t have as strong of ties to Cleveland but it would be a very good first job for David. The Cavs have gotten to the playoffs the last two seasons, advancing to the second round this year. It was pretty shocking that Denver native J.B. Bickerstaff was fired as their head coach but the team does have a serious question about the future of Donovan Mitchell. With or without Spida, the team would feature young solid players like Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, which is a lot better than most first-time head coaching gigs.

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