In a landmark appointment for the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers are hiring University of California-Berkeley women’s coach Lindsay Gottlieb to be an assistant coach on John Beilein’s staff, league sources told ESPN.
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.
Cavaliers general manager Koby 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.
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.
Gottlieb advanced to seven NCAA tournaments in her eight seasons at Cal, including a trip to the 2013 Final Four. She constructed a 179-78 (.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’s also coached with national teams for USA Basketball.
Gottlieb is believed to be the eighth female to share either an assistant coaching or player development role on an NBA, but 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 Bob Myers and Steve Kerr, and previously spent time at a LA Clippers training camp.