In a landmark appointment for the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers have hired University of California, Berkeley women's coach Lindsay Gottlieb to be an assistant coach on John Beilein's staff, it was announced Wednesday.
Gottlieb -- a Final Four and seven-time NCAA tournament head coach for the Golden Bears -- is the first women's collegiate head coach recruited to an NBA staff.
Sources said Gottlieb, 41, will sign a four-year contract and is expected to play a prominent role in support of Beilein and associate head coach JB Bickerstaff. Commissioner Adam Silver has been determined for the league to welcome more women's coaches into its ranks, and Gottlieb's stature and coaching credentials are unprecedented among women's coaches in the NBA.
"I am very thankful, proud and excited to be joining the Cavaliers as an assistant coach," Gottlieb said in a statement issued by the team. "After meeting with [GM] Koby Altman, Coach Beilein and Coach Bickerstaff, I knew this was an organization I wanted to be a part of and a team I wanted to dedicate myself to. While this move provided a unique and special chance to move directly from Cal Berkeley and women's college basketball to the NBA, it was really about being part of building and growing something special and adding value to a team and organization that is focused on doing things in a way that I believe strongly in.
"The vision for the Cavs' future is compelling and I look forward to helping make it a reality. At the same time, on a personal level, I am honored to hopefully impact young girls and women to be empowered to pursue their own visions and to be inspired to turn them into reality as well."
Altman had been interested in pursuing a high-level women's college coach as part of the team's new staff. He identified and brought the idea to Beilein, sources said.
"The more we researched and got to know Lindsay, the more we came to understand that she would be an impactful part of where we want to go as a team," Altman said in a statement. "Coach Gottlieb brings a depth of basketball knowledge, leadership, perspective and approach to her craft that will fit very well with our team and staff alike. We're fortunate that she was willing to leave her role as head coach at such a solid and successful program at Cal."
Once Beilein met Gottlieb and discussed the ways that she could impact an NBA coaching staff and environment, Beilein became determined to recruit her to Cleveland, sources said. Cleveland reached a deal with Gottlieb and agent Bret Just of CAA late Tuesday night, sources said.
"I am excited to have a coach with Lindsay's experience as a part of the new coaching staff with the Cavaliers," Beilein said in a statement. "Lindsay truly values and embraces player development and a culture of winning basketball habits. Her success at Cal Berkeley speaks for itself and her insight in our meetings, practices and games will hold tremendous value.
"After sitting with her, it was easy to see how she will connect quickly with our staff and our players, and we all benefit because of that connection. I'm looking forward to merging all of her years of experience and vision for the game with our current and future coaching staff."
Gottlieb advanced to seven NCAA tournaments in her eight seasons at Cal, including a trip to the 2013 Final Four. She constructed a 179-89 (.668) record and coached several future WNBA players. Prior to Cal, Gottlieb had a 56-39 record, including an NCAA bid, in three seasons as coach of University of California, Santa Barbara. She also has coached with national teams for USA Basketball.
Gottlieb is believed to be the eighth woman to share either an assistant coaching or player development role for an NBA team, but she joins the Cavaliers from the most prominent coaching perch of any of her predecessors -- a Power 5 college program with consistent Top 25 presence and a college salary believed to be the $700,000-plus range.
She is expected to have a level of staff prominence comparable to only two female coaching peers in the NBA: San Antonio's Becky Hammon and former Sacramento Kings assistant Nancy Lieberman.
Gottlieb has long had an intrigue with the NBA. She has been a regular visitor to Golden State Warriors practices as a guest of GM Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr, and previously spent time at a LA Clippers training camp.
"I also want to thank Cal for what has been an amazing job, and really my home and family, for the better part of 15 years," Gottlieb said. "It is very difficult to say goodbye. The university leadership, the athletic department, my fellow coaches, staff and, most of all, our players have been wonderful and inspiring to work with. The program is in great shape and I have no doubt it will continue to have a high level of success."