J.B. Bickerstaff’s Future With Cavs In “Serious Jeopardy”

The shorthanded Cavaliers were eliminated from the postseason by Boston on Wednesday night. Following the second-round ouster, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff‘s position with the team is in “serious jeopardy,” league sources tell Shams Charania, Joe Vardon and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.

Both The Athletic and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) state that Cleveland plans to take a few days to evaluate Bickerstaff’s job performance. Defeating Orlando in the first round marked the first playoff series the Cavs have won without LeBron James since 1993. And the front office “remains fond” of Bickerstaff, per Wojnarowski.

However, according to The Athletic, 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.” League sources tell The Athletic’s trio that a number of players have for months privately and publicly questioned the 45-year-old’s “strategies, game management, practice habits and accountability measures.”

No one has told me I’m not (the coach), so I’ll keep showing up until they tell me not to,” Bickerstaff said when asked about his job status after Wednesday’s loss. “We’ve continued to build this thing the right way. Every single year we’ve improved, continued to get better. Play-In, playoffs.”

Following an overtime victory over Houston in December, which was the second game after Darius Garland and Evan Mobley went down with multi-week injuries, president of basketball operations Koby Altman “admonished Bickerstaff in front of his entire staff” for playing Mitchell 45-plus minutes, multiple sources tell Charania, Vardon and Lloyd. Mitchell played the entire second half and all but four seconds of overtime, the authors add.

(Altman) got at J.B.,” one player said of the incident.

Evidently Altman was unaware at the time that Bickerstaff had asked Mitchell if he wanted a breather, and Mitchell said no. But the 26-year-old wound up missing the next four games with what the team referred to as a non-COVID illness, per The Athletic.

According to The Athletic’s trio, Bickerstaff makes approximately $5MM annually and is under contract through 2026. He holds a career regular season record of 255-290 (.468), including previous stops with Houston and Memphis.

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