Sources: Cavs to interview Kenny Atkinson, James Borrego

The Cleveland Cavaliers are beginning the interview process for the franchise's head-coaching opening, securing permission to interview two top candidates on the team's list: Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson and New Orleans assistant James Borrego, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

The Cavaliers are planning to secure permission to speak to more sitting assistant coaches, but Atkinson and Borrego are both top assistant coaches with head-coaching backgrounds that appeal to the Cavaliers in their process to replace J.B. Bickerstaff, sources told ESPN.

The Cavaliers advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals this season, winning 99 regular-season games over the past two years.

Borrego is a serious candidate in the Lakers' search, which included a second interview with the team's front office in Los Angeles on Wednesday, sources told ESPN.

Borrego led the Charlotte Hornets to back-to-back Eastern Conference play-in tournament berths as a head coach, improving from 23 to 33 to 43 victories in his three seasons on the job. Like Atkinson, Borrego has a strong reputation in player development -- including from his decade with the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant to Gregg Popovich.

Atkinson was 118-190 in three-plus years with the Brooklyn Nets, inheriting a full rebuild and showing improvement each season until he resigned during an injury-plagued 2019-20 season. Atkinson has strong relationships with two key Cavaliers players from those Nets teams -- Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert.

Atkinson spent the 2020-21 season with the Clippers as an assistant before joining Steve Kerr's Warriors staff, where he's spent the past three years. Previously, Atkinson spent nine seasons as an NBA assistant, four with the New York Knicks, three with the Atlanta Hawks.