The Cleveland Cavaliers have found their man to assist John Beilein in adjusting to the NBA game with the hiring of J.B. Bickerstaff as their lead assistant.
Bickerstaff served as the head coach for the Memphis Grizzlies over the last two seasons, as well as the interim head coach for the Houston Rockets in 2016. His father, Bernie Bickerstaff, has served as an advisor for the Cavs since 2013.
The news of the hire was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
Cleveland has hired JB Bickerstaff as associate head coach, league sources tell ESPN. Bickerstaff was a target of several teams, but Cavs were determined to pair him with John Beilein and made him one of league’s top paid assistants.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 19, 2019
Wojnarowski also reported that Bickerstaff was being pursued by several teams for the lead assistant role:
Bickerstaff had talked with Sixers, Celtics, Lakers and Kings about lead assistant roles, but Beilein and GM Koby Altman helped convince him to play a central role in helping ex-Michigan coach transition to NBA. Bickerstaff was HC with Grizzlies and Rockets. https://t.co/7EOWBfCmhf— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 19, 2019
This is a very solid hire for the Cavs, and continues to show their commitment to turning things around after a tough first season without LeBron James.
Dan Gilbert has shown a willingness to take on salary in exchange for draft picks and other assets, and made Bickerstaff a top paid assistant in an effort to lock up the best coaching staff money can buy.
While the draft lottery didn’t do the team any favors, they have shown a commitment to making the most of the assets they have.
Bickerstaff’s experience as a head coach should prove to be a valuable asset for the transition of Beilein. Having Beilein involved in the coaching search should help create a more healthy relationship between the two coaches. At least in comparison to David Blatt and Tyronn Lue being hired on the same day and trying to figure things out from there.