NBA

Cavaliers finally decide to fire coach J.B. Bickerstaff after five seasons

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Even though the Cavaliers recently played their first Eastern Conference semifinals in six seasons, the club has decided to let go of their coach J.B. Bickerstaff on Thursday. The 45-year-old, who was meant to rebuild the Cleveland team and led them to 99 regular-season wins, will now be left without a job after five years in Ohio. 

In 2020, he replaced John Beilein as interim coach, and went on to produce a 170-159 record until they fell to the Celtics at the start of this month. However, they did beat the Orlando Magic in the opening-round series of the playoffs, after reaching the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed with a 48-34 mark.

Unfortunately for the Cavs, they played their last two games of their semifinal matchup without stars Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen, as the club failed to keep their core starters healthy throughout the season. According to ESPN, Mitchell, Garland, Mobley and Allen played only 28 games together this campaign.

Maybe J.B. Bickerstaff hasn’t taken the Cavaliers to the same heights that the franchise enjoyed back when LeBron James was in town, but he’s certainly been the best coach they’ve had ever since. However, seems that the president of basketball operations Koby Altman and general manager Mike Gansey want a fresh approach.

In spite of Cleveland’s improvement over the years, numerous insiders like Joe Vardon, Jason Lloyd and Shams Charania coincided that Bickerstaff’s role had been “in serious jeopardy” after this month’s season-ending defeat against the Celtics in Game 5 of the semifinals.

On the other hand, Adrian Wojnarowski shared that the Cavs front office will have “a lot of conversations on different ways to proceed” heading into the summer.

“Cavaliers plan to take time to evaluate coach JB Bickerstaff’s future, but organization remains fond of him and marketplace is sparse of proven candidates. There will be a lot of conversations on different ways to proceed for a franchise that reached Eastern semis for first time since 2018,” the ESPN reporter had anticipated last week.

Despite rumours of being sacked, Bickerstaff had always said that he wished to remain in Ohio and continue his process

Even though he knew that his days in Cleveland were potentially coming to an end, J.B. Bickerstaff mentioned last week that he wished to continue being the squad’s head coach.

“Yeah,” he started out. “We have continued to build this thing the right way. Every single year we’ve improved, continued to get better, play-in, playoffs, win a round … players have gotten better. Guys have had great years.”

When asked about his firing, he made sure everyone knew that he wished to stay. “This is definitely a place I want to be,” he told the press. “I mean, no one’s told me I’m not. So, I’ll keep showing up ’til they tell me not to.”

Now the Ohio team will have to evaluate what to do if Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland don’t renew their deals with the Cavaliers. However, the 24-year-old still believes that the club has a great project ahead and that the team has improved year after year.

“We take a leap every year, so hopefully next year we take another leap,” the point guard said. “Hopefully we’ll be in the Eastern Conference finals fully healthy and just take another leap. Definitely came a long way from when I was drafted. I went from 19 wins to being in the semifinals of the conference, so I’ll take it, just to keep getting better and better every year.”