Cavs Fire J.B. Bickerstaff: Various Candidates Already Linked

JB Bickerstaff, NBA Rumors, Cleveland Cavaliers
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers fired head coach J.B. Bickerstaff following the team’s NBA playoff exit. His tenure began midway through the 2019-20 season when John Beilein resigned. After posting a 22-50 record during the early rebuild stage, the team achieved three consecutive seasons with a winning record but faced a limited ceiling.

The Cavaliers finished the season going 48-34 and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time in years before ultimately facing elimination at the hands of the Boston Celtics.

On paper, Cleveland had a favorable season. Still, it’s important to remember that this is a team with championship aspirations and doesn’t envision Bickerstaff as capable of being the coach to lead them to that level. His comments praising the Boston Celtics for embracing their roles led some to take that as a subliminal message about his team not doing the same.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Bickerstaff was fired. Our sources indicate that key players lost faith in his coaching direction during the season. The awkward fit of the roster’s foundational elements did not help the situation, nor did Bickerstaff’s approach.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers Updates

Various options to keep an eye on for this job include Golden State Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson and New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego. Both are hot names around the league. Cleveland is expected to undergo significant changes on the coaching staff beyond Bickerstaff regarding assistant coaches.

The Cavaliers must make various pressing matters to tend to this summer, including the future of Donovan Mitchell, who is eligible to sign a four-year, $208 million contract extension. Our sources have indicated the current outlook being Mitchell having a likely probability to committing to remain with the organization.

After committing to Mitchell long-term, Cleveland must consider breaking up its backcourt. Darius Garland is a talented young guard, but many, including his camp, are concerned about how well his skill set is maximized playing next to Mitchell.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers Updates

Having two talented centers can be a luxury, but the Cavaliers have two starters who do not necessarily complement each other well: Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. At some point, the front office must figure out an identity to commit to with their frontcourt and then build from there, requiring them to add talent on the wing. Given how important 3-point shooting volume has become in the NBA, deploying Mobley and Allen is questioned by many.

The Cavaliers got hot numerous times this season when playing smaller lineups when either Mobley or Allen was injured at key points. While it’s up to Cleveland’s front office to make these decisions, it’s harder to envision Mobley being traded due to the perception of his ceiling as a player compared to Allen. Regardless, it would be important to have a roster-building vision before finding the next coach to guide them.

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