Cavaliers Fire Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff

9:53am: The Cavaliers have confirmed Bickerstaff’s dismissal (Twitter link).

9:27am: The Cavaliers have fired head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and Pelicans associate head coach James Borrego are expected to be among candidates for the job, Charania adds.

Despite the fact Cleveland advanced out of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Bickerstaff’s dismissal doesn’t come as a surprise. A report from The Athletic last week indicated Bickerstaff’s job was in “serious jeopardy.”

That report indicated that star guard Donovan Mitchell, who is eligible for a four-year extension this offseason, “did not have great confidence in Bickerstaff” throughout the season, and he was “not alone.” It also suggested that a number of players privately and publicly questioned the 45-year-old’s “strategies, game management, practice habits and accountability measures” during the course of the season.

Another incident in the report spoke of how president of basketball operations Koby Altman “admonished Bickerstaff in front of his entire staff” after he played Mitchell heavy minutes in a December overtime victory with two other starters already sidelined by injuries.

Bickerstaff said after his team was eliminated for the postseason that he wanted to return and considered this season an improvement.

To win a round in the playoffs isn’t easy,” he said. “I thought we faced a tough challenge in that first round, obviously, and to be able to go to seven games and win it showed a ton of growth. I think the play of our guys continued to show their growth. You guys will judge what success looks like. I think we accomplished what we were trying to accomplish but coming up short of a goal of obviously winning a championship.”

The Cavs will begin an immediate search for Bickerstaff’s replacement, with Altman and general manager Mike Gansey formulating a list that is expected to include coaches with head-coaching experience and potential first-timers, Chris Fedor of reports.

According to Fedor, the Cavs considered making a coaching change during the first month of the season after they got off to a slow start.

Despite the supposed internal turmoil, there’s reportedly growing optimism that Mitchell will sign an extension this offseason. Whether a coaching change impacts that in any way remains to be seen.

Bickerstaff became the Cavaliers’ head coach in February 2020 after John Beilein‘s brief stay in the NBA. The Cavaliers went 22-50 in his first full season as head coach and doubled that win total in a full 82-game season in 2021/22.

The Cavs racked up 51 regular season wins in 2022/23 but were bounced by the Knicks in the opening round of the playoffs. Cleveland won 48 games this season and defeated Orlando in the opening round but got eliminated in five games by top-seeded Boston in the second round. Mitchell missed the last two games due to a calf injury and center Jarrett Allen sat out the entire series with a rib injury.

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