The Grizzlies have made official what we learned last Thursday, announcing today in a press release that they’ve named J.B. Bickerstaff their permanent head coach. Bickerstaff had been serving as the club’s interim coach since replacing David Fizdale early in the 2017/18 regular season.
“J.B. did an admirable job as interim head coach last season in what was a challenging set of circumstances,” Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said in a statement. “J.B. has connected with our players and earned their respect throughout his time in Memphis, and we have been pleased with his role in developing our young players. We are excited to see him coach with a full offseason and a healthy roster next season.”
Reports last week indicated that Bickerstaff’s new deal with the Grizzlies will cover three years, though Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal tweets that the third year is a team option. If Grizzlies management likes what it sees from Bickerstaff in 2018/19, that option will probably be exercised before the 2019/20 season begins in order to avoid having the head coach enter that year as a lame duck.
After making seven straight appearances in the postseason, the Grizzlies fell out of playoff contention early in the 2017/18 campaign, battling through injuries to key players like Mike Conley, Tyreke Evans, and Chandler Parsons. Memphis went 15-48 with Bickerstaff at the helm, ultimately finishing with a 22-60 record. It was the NBA’s second-worst mark.
The Grizzlies will hold a formal press conference on Wednesday to re-introduce Bickerstaff as head coach.