Bernie Bickerstaff

Cavaliers Hire J.B. Bickerstaff As Associate Head Coach

The Cavaliers have hired J.B. Bickerstaff as associate head coach, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. A target of multiple franchises this offseason for a coaching role (including the Sixers, Celtics, Lakers and Kings), Bickerstaff will be tasked with helping new head coach John Beilein make the transition to the NBA.

Bickerstaff, who will now be one of the league’s top paid assistant coaches, is a former head coach of both the Rockets (interim) and Grizzlies. He is also the son of former NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who now serves as a Senior Basketball Advisor for the Cavaliers.

As we relayed last week, the Cavaliers also still plan to hire at least one other person to join Beilein’s staff, potentially from the pool of other candidates that interviewed for the head coaching position, including Alex Jensen (Utah), Jamahl Mosley (Dallas), Jordi Fernandez (Denver), and Nate Tibbetts (Portland).

Pistons Plan To Interview Kenny Smith For HC Job

The Pistons intend to interview TNT analyst Kenny Smith for their head coaching job, report Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). According to Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link), the Pistons spoke to Smith prior to the combine about the role, so today’s report “could be a signal of intensifying conversation.”

Smith, who was a player in the NBA from 1987 to 1997 and has now been with Turner Sports for two decades, doesn’t have any NBA coaching experience. However, this is the second time this spring that a team has expressed interest in interviewing him. Smith also met with the Knicks about their head coaching vacancy before they hired David Fizdale.

In addition to seeking out a new head coach, the Pistons are also in the market for a new head of basketball operations, and there’s a belief that the team will attempt to fill the latter role before deciding on a coach.

Still, veteran executive Ed Stefanski is serving as a special advisor in both searches, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported today (via Twitter) that former NBA head coaches Bernie Bickerstaff and Jim Lynam will consult with Stefanski in the coaching search, and sit in on interviews with candidates. As such, there are already plenty of voices involved in the search for a new head coach, even without a GM in place.

Dwane Casey has also been cited as a possible candidate for the Pistons, and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald tweeted today that it wouldn’t be a surprise if Detroit brings in Heat assistant Juwan Howard for an interview.

Cavaliers Hope To Have Isaiah Thomas Back By Christmas

The Cavaliers are optimistic that Isaiah Thomas can recover from injuries to his right hip in time for their Christmas game with Golden State, relays Joe Vardon of

The two-time All-Star has reportedly made “real progress” in rehab since joining the team in late August. Thomas was part of the package that Cleveland received from Boston in return for Kyrie Irving, and a dispute over Thomas’ medical condition help up the deal for about a week.

Cavaliers officials refused to answer questions about Thomas’ hip in a press conference after the deal was completed and offered no timetable for a possible return. Today’s news is the first indication of when he might be ready to play again.

Thomas suffered a torn labrum during the season and aggravated the injury in the Eastern Conference Finals, forcing him to miss the end of the series. It has been reported that he also has a loss of cartilage and some arthritis, which has slowed the recovery process.

Thomas has used a multi-faceted rehab plan to try to get back on the court, Vardon writes. In addition to weightlifting and stretching, he has been running in a pool and on a weightless treadmill and taking stationary shots on the court.

Thomas’ condition affects more than just the Cavaliers’ season. He is hoping for a max contract in free agency next summer after making about $6.3MM this year.

In other news out of Cleveland today:

  • Coach Tyronn Lue says free agent addition Derrick Rose will be the starting point guard until Thomas returns, Vardon tweets. The former MVP agreed to a one-year, minimum salary deal with Cleveland in July after spending one year with the Knicks.
  • The team has named Bernie Bickerstaff senior advisor of basketball operations, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link).

Odds & Ends: 2014 Draft, CP3, Mavs, Warriors

About 12 hours after the 2013 NBA draft officially came to an end,'s Chad Ford was already looking forward to 2014. Ford's latest Insider-only blog at takes a very early look at the '14 draft class, which several scouts and GMs believe could be one of the strongest ever. While Andrew Wiggins in the consensus top prospect for '14, the rest of Ford's top 100 is considered well above average as well, with Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker, and Andrew Harrison rounding out the top five.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:

  • Speaking of next year's draft, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports that the NBA is considering moving the event back at least a week next year, since the current setup doesn't leave much time between the Finals and draft night. However, the league doesn't want to postpone free agency and Summer League play significantly, so it's unclear whether or not the timing will work. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing the draft happen a few weeks after the free agency period begins, but it doesn't sound like that's an option.
  • Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show today, Doc Rivers said he talks to Chris Paul every day and that he believes CP3 wants to remain a Clipper (Twitter link via Arash Markazi of
  • Dirk Nowitzki addressed reporters, including Tim MacMahon of, on draft night and revealed that he has talked to Dwight Howard about the possibility of D12 signing with the Mavericks. "I reached out to him and told him we'd love to have him," Nowitzki said. "That's really about it. It's not like we call each other every day."
  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News has an excellent in-depth look into what happened in the Warriors' draft room last night, detailing how happy the team was with the end result of its series of trades.
  • Mike Brown's staff with the Cavaliers will include the following assistants, according to Bob Finnan of the News-Herald (via Twitter): Jim Boylan, Bernie Bickerstaff, Igor Kokoskov, Jamahl Mosley, Phil Handy, Vitaly Potapenko, and Bret Brielmaier.

Los Angeles Notes: Lakers, Clippers, Del Negro

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni doesn't know if he'll have all of his familiar faces back next season, but he decided to shake things up the sidelines in advance of what should be a very interesting summer in L.A.  D'Antoni has informed assistants Bernie Bickerstaff and Chuck Person that they won't be back with the Lakers in 2013/14, according to Dave McMenamin of (on Twitter).  Here's more out of the Staples Center..

  • Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro says that he has no read on whether he will return for next season, writes Arash Markazi of  Clippers vice president of basketball operation Gary Sacks says he will take feedback from exit interviews with players and coaches into consideration when deciding on Del Negro.
  • Speaking of Sacks, the Clippers exec says he is confident that Chris Paul will be back, writes Markazi.  "I think he's an integral part of this. We feel like we had a great partnership for the last couple of years and we want to continue it obviously. These are decisions that have to be made and some of them will be taken care of at the appropriate time. We can't talk to him until July 1, so we'll go ahead and do that. We'll move forward when it's appropriate," the GM said.
  • Earl Clark may be a vital piece for the Lakers to keep, simply because their ability to add talent will be so limited, writes Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times (via Sulia).
  • Mike Trudell of spoke to Lakers management and players about Dwight Howard and his impending free agency.

Odds & Ends: D’Antoni, Roy, Fisher, Gasol, Bucks

Mike D'Antoni was expected to make his debut as Lakers coach tonight, but his balky knee forced Bernie Bickerstaff to continue as interim coach for one more night. D'Antoni, who'll try to hit the sidelines again Tuesday, has told Bickerstaff he'll remain on the staff this season, notes Dave McMenamin of D'Antoni did make one change to the coaching staff, however, bringing brother Dan D'Antoni aboard as expected, the team announced. Here's more from an eight-game day and night around the NBA.

Lakers, Phil Jackson ‘Getting Close’ To Deal?

9:54pm: In addition to rumblings that the Lakers would try to bring back Brian Shaw (currently an assistant on the Pacers) as an assistant if Jackson is hired, the former Bulls coach would reportedly consider bringing along Scottie Pippen to his staff as well (Mitch Lawrence of the NY Daily News reports).  

9:29pm: Although this isn't much different that what has been implied before, Chris Broussard of ESPN also confirmed that Jackson's demands from today's meeting included travel restrictions for road games and an increased role in personnel decisions (Twitter link), a price which Broussard calls "steep." 

8:53pm: According to Yahoo's Marc J. Spears, Jackson is expected to meet again with Lakers brass on Sunday or Monday. Should he accept an offer to coach the team, he is expected to bring former assistants Kurt Rambis, Frank Hamblen, and Jim Cleamons on board. Most notably, Mitch Kupchak has said that money will not be an issue in negotiations. 

6:30pm: Kevin Ding of the OC Register (via Twitter) says that Phil's meeting with Kupchack and Jim Buss this afternoon went well. 

5:45pm: Sam Amick credits a source close to Jackson who told USA Today that a deal would get done barring something significant. Mike Trudell of tweets that Jackson, Kupchak, and Jim Buss have all agreed to meet again within the next several days, also mentioning that Bernie Bickerstaff will remain as the interim coach in the meantime. 

Read more

Lakers Coaching Rumors: Friday

As national and local reporters alike continue to seek out info in relation to the Lakers' coaching opening, we'll round up all of today's new updates right here. Be sure to check out our previous posts to catch up on news of Mike Brown's firing and vote on who would make the best hire for the Lakers.

  • Phil Jackson is open to a return, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles, who adds that he hears the Lakers have not yet been in touch with Jackson.

Earlier updates:

  • Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News hears that Brown's firing has been in the works for the last two or three weeks, and Goodwill's source hinted that the Lakers have already been in contact with Phil Jackson (Twitter link).
  • If the Lakers wanted to hire Mike D'Antoni, he could be cleared to travel with the team later this month, tweets Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Former Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy will also be considered by the Lakers, according to Ramona Shelburne of
  • Speaking to the media this afternoon, GM Mitch Kupchak said he wouldn't rule out pursuing other teams' assistant coaches, but that the Lakers are more likely to hire a free agent coach (Twitter link via Scott Howard-Cooper of
  • Dwight Howard has told the Lakers his preference is for the team to bring back Phil Jackson, according to Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops.
  • A source tells Dave McMenamin of (Twitter link) that the Lakers plan to interview four or five candidates. "It's not going to be a long process, that's for damn sure," said the source.
  • The Lakers fired Brown without having made a short list of potential replacements, tweets's Chris Broussard. The team will put together a list this afternoon, according to Broussard.
  • Bernie Bickerstaff doesn't expect to be the Lakers' interim coach for longer than a game, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. It sounds as if that means another assistant would take over the job in the interim, rather than the Lakers completing their search that quickly.
  • Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports and J.A. Adande of both share tweets on the odds of Phil Jackson returning to the Lakers — the consensus seems to be that Jackson wouldn't rule it out, but that doesn't necessarily mean he wants the job.
  • Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register adds (via Twitter) that there don't seem to be any obstacles from either the Lakers' or Jackson's side that would preclude Jackson returning, if both parties are interested in a reunion.
  • When asked if they'd have interest in the Lakers' job, Brian Shaw and Jerry Sloan both declined comment, according to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link) and Jazz announcer David Locke (Twitter link), respectively.

Lakers Finalize Coaching Staff Overhaul

We heard several weeks ago that Mike Brown and the Lakers planned to bring Eddie Jordan, Bernie Bickerstaff and Steve Clifford on board as assistant coaches this season.  Mike Trudell of tweets that the team made it official today.  Here is the press release from the Lakers, who also announced that former assistant John Kuester has been reassigned as an Advanced NBA Scout based on the East Coast.

According to Trudell, Kuester worked extensively with the offense last year, which was his first with the Lakers after coaching the Pistons for two seasons.  Trudell fully expects those responsibilities to now fall to Jordan, who is known for his expertise with the Princeton offense.  He also says Chuck Person and Darvin Ham are expected to remain on staff as assistants.  In addition to the reassignment of Kuester, the new trio will also be replacing Quin Snyder and Ettore Messina who left the team this summer to coach for CSKA Moscow.


Lakers Hire Eddie Jordan, Bickerstaff As Assistants

Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reports that Eddie Jordan and Bernie Bickerstaff will join the Lakers as assistants to head coach Mike Brown. Jordan last coached the 76ers during the 2009-10 season and previously lead the Wizards to the playoffs in four of his five full seasons as Washington's head coach. Bickerstaff had most recently been an assistant coach for the Trail Blazers. 

With the departure of Quin Snyder and Ettore Messina from the team this summer, Jordan and Bickerstaff fill voids on Brown's coaching staff. Jordan is especially valued for his "unique expertise and comprehensive knowledge" of the Princeton offense, and even met with Brown and Kobe Bryant during Team USA training camp to detail how the Lakers could incorporate it for next season. Ding also reports that the team is still expected to add one more assistant coach.