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Cleveland Cavaliers president Koby Altman spent much his 36-minute press conference on Friday talking about how much talent the team has on the roster. He repeatedly asserted that he doesn't believe the front office needs to split up the backcourt tandem of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, nor the frontcourt tandem of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. On two separate occasions, Altman brought up the fact that the Cavaliers have won a total of 99 regular-season games in the last two seasons as evidence that they've been successful.

They haven't been successful enough, though, for coach J.B. Bickerstaff to keep his job, which put Altman in a tricky rhetorical position. When discussing the decision to fire Bickerstaff, he stressed that Cleveland couldn't be content with reaching the second round of the playoffs. When arguing that it can keep its core intact, he stressed that this was only Year 2.

"It's not one singular thing that J.B. did wrong; it's how do we continue to move this thing forward?" Altman told reporters. "Because we don't think we're far off."

The Bickerstaff firing is widely seen as the first domino in what could be an offseason of major change for the Cavaliers. Altman pushed back on that notion, saying, "I don't see the need to make sweeping changes." He specifically pointed to the Cavs' net rating in the past two years, including the playoffs, with the two bigs on the court (plus-5.2, per and the two small guards (plus-4.9), and he called the idea that Mitchell and Garland don't fit well "overblown."

Shortly after Cleveland was eliminated by the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their second-round series on May 15, The Athletic reported that, if Mitchell decides to stay with the team long-term, Garland's agent, Rich Paul, would talk to the front office about the possibility of a trade. Altman didn't directly address this report, but said that Mitchell and Garland "have a great relationship on and off the court" and added, "I think this pairing has a chance to be really successful together, and the data speaks to that, over the last two years."

On July 30, Mitchell will be eligible to sign an extension worth up to $208.5 million over four years. Altman didn't promise that the star would sign it, but projected optimism.

"I'll say that my exit interview with him was really good in that he was talking about the future and how excited he was about the team, the organization," Altman said. "This is a player that has had two of the best years of his career here, has had a lot of success here, understands the infrastructure, I think has a lot of trust in what we're doing and understands that our goal is to win a championship." 

He continued: "From his own words, he says he's happy here, he likes it here, and so he's always been very genuine, he's always been very intentional, he's been a great teammate and we have to take all that at face value and say 'OK, we feel good about where we are with Donovan.' Obviously, things can change. In terms of his contract future, it's nothing we can talk about until [June 30]."

Altman said that he "absolutely would love to have [Mitchell's] feedback on how we continue to build this thing," crediting him for helping recruit free agents last summer, when they signed Max Strus and Georges Niang, the latter of whom had previously played with Mitchell in Utah. Asked if this season's exit interviews with players influenced the choice to fire Bickerstaff, Altman said, "We always take input from players," but "at the end of the day, the decision has to come from me and no particular player or players." Asked directly if Mitchell's contract or view of Bickerstaff had an impact on the decision, Altman said, "No."

ESPN and The Athletic both reported that former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, currently on Steve Kerr's staff with the Golden State Warriors, should be considered a candidate to replace Bickerstaff. The Athletic also reported that former Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego, currently on Willie Green's staff with the New Orleans Pelicans, is in the mix. Altman said that the coaching search will be a "massive undertaking" and Cleveland does not yet have a list of potential coaches or even a set of criteria for the candidates.

"We're going to take the weekend off right now just to decompress a little bit," Altman said. "I know people already have lists that we have. It's not true. We're going to come back on Tuesday, we're going to go over characteristics, what are the specific questions that we have and then start to compile a list and then go from there." 

Altman said that, in exit interviews, players told him they believe they are "very close," so it's now his job to make moves at the margins and "try to pull levers that we have here from every angle that we can look at to maximize what we have in-house." Part of that, he said, will be finding a coach "with a new approach, someone with a different voice, a fresh set of eyes to help us move forward." When he does interview candidates, he will have "very highly specific questions" for them about how the team "can achieve even more than we have."

The Cavs would "love to have a coach in place for the draft," Altman said. He cautioned, though, that this kind of timeline might be "too aggressive." Other teams with head-coaching vacancies may be ahead of them in this process, but that doesn't mean they'll rush it; the hire will be made "when we come up with the right decision for who's the right match for this group. And if it has to drag on a little longer, it does." Once again, he tried to simultaneously convey the need for patience and a sense of urgency.