Jamahl Mosley

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).

Bickerstaff, Other Candidates Could Join Beilein’s Staff

New Cavaliers coach John Beilein is expected to meet with former Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff to gauge Bickerstaff’s interest in becoming his associate head coach, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Bickerstaff met with Cleveland’s front office and was also a candidate for the Lakers job before they hired Frank Vogel.

Bickerstaff may not be the only candidate the Cavaliers interviewed who could potentially join Beilein’s staff. They will likely hire at least one other from that pool, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports.

Cleveland stunned the basketball world on Monday by plucking the 66-year-old Beilein out of the college ranks and naming the University of Michigan head man as its head coach.

GM Koby Altman conducted an extensive search, interviewing at least 10 other candidates, mostly NBA assistants. Among that group, Alex Jensen (Utah), Jamahl Mosley (Dallas) and Jordi Fernandez (Denver) are candidates to wind up on Beilein’s staff, as is Nate Tibbetts (Portland), who was expected to get an interview until the Cavs focused on the Wolverines coach.

Beilein is on board with having seasoned NBA assistants on the bench, Vardon continues, but wants to chat with potential candidates to find out which would be the best fits.

Vardon also added these nuggets in his story:

  • There was already mutual interest between the Cavs and Beilein when assistant GM and West Virginia alum Mike Gansey visited his former college coach at the Final Four in Minneapolis on April 6. Beilein was not viewed as a leading candidate for the job at the time mainly because the Cleveland brass doubted Beilein would leave Michigan.
  • Altman and his staff quietly interviewed Beilein last week. Later in the week, Beilein met with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who lives in suburban Detroit. Beilein emerged as the Cavs’ choice after that meeting.
  • The youth and fluidity of the Cavs’ roster intrigued Beilein. It gives Beilein a chance to mold the team to his liking, as he’s done previously in his college stops.

Latest On Suns’, Cavs’ Head Coaching Searches

The Suns met with Monty Williams for a second time on Wednesday night, with team owner Robert Sarver in attendance for the interview, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter), league sources say the Suns’ job will be Williams’ if he wants it, and the possibility of a union between the two sides is one that’s gaining real momentum.

However, Williams is in high demand this spring, having also interviewed with the Lakers. Plus, he’d likely be a strong candidate to replace Brett Brown in Philadelphia if the Sixers bow out in the second round and the team decides to make a change on the sidelines. In other words, Williams can afford to be deliberate about his next move.

For what it’s worth, the Suns have yet to formally put an offer on the table to Williams, according to Wojnarowski. Stein and Woj both confirm that Williams is Phoenix’s top target, so the club may be waiting to see if the Lakers make him an offer that can be countered, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic hypothesized earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers – one of the other four teams in the market for a new head coach – continued their search this week by interviewing former Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff on Tuesday, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Vardon also reported that Jazz assistant Alex Jensen would be interviewing with the Cavaliers later in the week — that meeting will take place on Friday, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

The Cavs are being patient as they go through the interview process, and appear likely to meet with their finalists for a second round of interviews once they’ve talked to all the candidates once. Stein reports (via Twitter) that Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley, who met with Cleveland earlier in the process, is expected to advance to the next round.

Coaching Updates: Williams, Lakers, Suns, Cavs

The Lakers sent a big contingent of executives to Philadelphia today for their second interview with head coaching candidate Monty Williams, reports Bill Oram of The Athletic (via Twitter). According to Oram, in addition to GM Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss, the meeting will also include Lakers executives Joey Buss, Jesse Buss, Kurt Rambis, Linda Rambis, and COO Tim Harris.

Williams won’t be the first candidate to meet with such a big group. According to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter), the same Lakers executives met with Juwan Howard on Tuesday and Tyronn Lue on Wednesday. It was Howard’s first interview and Lue’s second for L.A.’s head coaching job.

As Oram observes (via Twitter), it’s somewhat interesting to see the younger Buss siblings, Jesse and Joey, involved in the process. While they’ve been part of the Lakers’ organization for years, their contributions have been limited to the scouting department and the G League affiliate — they’d been largely left out of major basketball operations decisions until now.

Here are a few more coaching-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Lakers aren’t the only team with interest in Monty Williams. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Suns officials are traveling to Toronto to meet with the Sixers assistant on Friday before Philadelphia opens its series against the Raptors on Saturday. Phoenix received permission earlier this week to interview Williams, who has been identified as the team’s top candidate to replace Igor Kokoskov. The Suns may try to preempt a Lakers offer, Wojnarowski writes.
  • The Cavaliers and J.B. Bickerstaff are working to set up a meeting for next week, sources tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Bickerstaff said on Wednesday that he’s “definitely interested” in Cleveland’s head coaching job. Vardon also confirms that Juwan Howard and Jamahl Mosley are the only candidates who have formally interviewed with the Cavs so far.
  • The Cavaliers remain interested in Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez, but have yet to officially line up an interview, league sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Denver remains alive in the playoffs, so the Cavs will have to work around the Nuggets’ schedule.

Cavs To Interview Juwan Howard, Jamahl Mosley, Others

1:32pm: The Cavs also plan to interview Utah’s Alex Jensen and Portland’s David Vanterpool when their teams are done with the playoffs, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter link).

12:55pm: Heat assistant Juwan Howard and Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley will be the first two candidates to interview for the Cavaliers‘ head coaching job, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Both interviews are expected this week.

Cavs GM Koby Altman plans to go through a long list of candidates before hiring a replacement for Larry Drew, Woj adds. The team will start with assistant coaches on teams that didn’t reach the playoffs.

Howard has been part of Erik Spoelstra’s staff in Miami since retiring from the NBA in 2013. Mosley was an assistant in Cleveland for four seasons before leaving for Denver in 2014.

Cavs Notes: Smith, Coaching Search, Expiring Deals, Draft

Cavaliers GM Koby Altman told reporters Friday that he has already been contacted by a team interested in trading for J.R. Smith, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The interest isn’t so much in Smith as a player – he parted ways with the team in November and only appeared in 11 games this season – but in his contract, which is valued at $14.72MM but carries only a $3.87MM guarantee.

[RELATED: Why J.R. Smith May (Or May Not) Be A Valuable Offseason Trade Chip]

A team looking to unload salary could deal for Smith and be on the hook for just $1.29MM annually if he is waived and stretched over three seasons. The Cavaliers showed a willingness this year to take on unwanted contracts in exchange for draft picks, trading for Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, Matthew Dellavedova and Nik Stauskas.

“We are actually the only team in the NBA that can provide guaranteed cap relief from teams or salary relief until July 1,” Altman said. “We can guarantee that right now and we actually had a phone call yesterday on that (Smith) trade chip, so, we’re going to keep on being aggressive adding those assets because we do eventually want to consolidate and be really good at some point.”

There’s more from Cleveland, all courtesy of Vardon:

  • Altman promised an “open-minded” approach to the team’s coaching search and brought up the possibility of making history by hiring a woman for the job. Though he couldn’t mention her by name because she’s under contract, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon is an obvious candidate if Altman wants a female coach. Hammon interviewed for the Bucks’ head-coaching job last year, ran the Spurs’ summer league team and has a player development background, which Vardon states is important to the Cavaliers.
  • Other coaching possibilities that Cavs players mentioned to Vardon include the Nets’ Bret Brielmaier, the Mavericks’ Jamahl Mosley and the Trail Blazers’ Nate Tibbetts. All three have previous experience in Cleveland. Altman said interviews will begin soon with candidates whose teams aren’t in the playoffs.
  • The Cavaliers believe their expiring contracts for next season might generate some interest on the trade market this summer. Knight and Dellavedova will both be free agents in 2020, along with John Henson, Jordan Clarkson and Tristan Thompson.
  • Cleveland won a tiebreaker with the Suns for second place in the draft order heading into next month’s lottery. If they Cavs do wind up with the No. 2 pick, Vardon notes, their view of what type of player Collin Sexton will develop into may determine whether they opt for a point guard in Ja Morant or a wing player in R.J. Barrett.

Larry Drew Unlikely To Coach Cavs Long-Term

The Cavaliers have begun searching for a permanent head coach for 2019/20 and beyond, and Larry Drew isn’t believed to be a serious candidate, according to a report from Joe Vardon and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. While Drew has served as Cleveland’s interim coach since Tyronn Lue‘s dismissal earlier this season, he’s unsure he’d want to return next season and doesn’t appear likely to be asked, per Vardon and Lloyd.

“I don’t know if I ever want to be a head coach again after this year,” said Drew, who has dealt with a constant stream of injuries since Lue’s ouster, guiding the Cavs to a 9-34 record.

According to Vardon and Lloyd, the Cavaliers will likely seek a first-time NBA head coach who has experience developing players and/or coaching in the G League. The club hasn’t yet begun reaching out to candidates or their agents, since the search is still in its infancy. However, The Athletic duo identifies six candidates who have ties to the Cavs or GM Koby Altman and could be fits. Those six candidates are:

  • Nuggets assistant Jordi Fernandez
  • Hornets assistant Steve Hetzel
  • Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin
  • Hawks assistant Chris Jent
  • Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley
  • Jazz assistant Alex Jensen

It’s not entirely clear whether Vardon and Lloyd are just speculating based on the criteria outlined by the Cavs and Altman’s history with those coaches, or if they have inside info on the club’s wish list. Either way, it seems safe to assume that at least a few of those assistants will receive consideration from Cleveland.

For now, Drew is still running the show and the 60-year-old coach admits that he’s happy Lue was let go early in the season — not because he wanted to supplant Lue, but because he believes the Cavs’ struggles this year would have been hard on the team’s former head coach, who battled stress and health issues last season.

“I wouldn’t want to see him go through this,” Drew said. “I wouldn’t want him to go through it from a physical and mental standpoint after some of the things that he went through. He deserves better after having won a championship. He deserves much, much better.”

When the Cavs initially replaced Lue with Drew, he resisted taking on the title of interim head coach until the team gave him a raise and a small financial guarantee for next season. Several months later, he still doesn’t sound like someone who wanted the job to begin with, as Vardon and Lloyd relay.

“I wasn’t looking to do this. I was not looking to do this at all,” Drew said. “But it happened. Ain’t a whole lot you can do about it.”