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J.B. Bickerstaff says Cavs can be a “playoff-contending team” next season

Expectations for the 2020-21 Cavs?

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Whether or not the NBA season returns, the Cleveland Cavaliers are not a playoff team this year. If the season ended today and no more games were played, the Cavs would finish the second-worst record in the league.

Next season, though, the team has its eye on the playoffs, according to head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

“I think our responsibility is to keep improving,” Bickerstaff said Wednesday on a conference call for Wine and Gold United members. “You always look outward. You’re always doing your job to see what players you’re going to get in the draft, what free agents may be available, but for us as a coaching staff, our priority is developing the guys that we have here and who we can identify to take the biggest step to make us that team that we want to be. And that’s a playoff-contending team.”

”That’s what our focus is right now. I trust our front office. They work tirelessly and are prepared. And, again, it was a small sample size, but if you look at the way we competed over that stretch, there’s no reason why we can’t have that conversation about achieving that goal for next year.”

Bickerstaff also praised the Cavs leadership.

“I’m confident that we’re heading in the right direction,” Bickerstaff said. “I think we’ve got the right leadership in place with Koby Altman. Koby is a tireless and relentless worker, talent evaluator and creative mind. We have an unbelievable owner. The resources that Dan Gilbert affords us to have are second to none. A lot of people talk about being champions but aren’t willing to do the things it takes to become a champion and he allows us the ability to do that with his leadership and the culture he has created here. And we have the players on the floor who can help us start the foundation of who we are trying to be.”

Bickerstaff — nor any Cavs player or Altman — has spoke to the media via a team press event since the season was suspended on March 11. Wine and Gold United is the Cavs’ official membership club that costs money to join.

Bickerstaff isn’t the only person in the organization to say this recently, as Collin Sexton echoed a similar sentiment to Forbes earlier this week. It’s also understandable. But going from the near the bottom of the league to the playoffs is a leap. And in recent years, Cleveland hasn’t always been a normal franchise. Case in point: The Cavs have had four coaches in one and a half seasons in Bickerstaff, John Beilein, Tyronn Lue and Larry Drew.

A playoff birth would be great. Maybe a Sexton-Kevin Love-Andre Drummond led roster can get there in the Eastern Conference. But maybe the Cavs should try to be a normal team before trying to level up.