An encouraging 10-game start to his tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers has formally landed head coach J.B. Bickerstaff a contract extension.
The Athletic’s Kelsey Russo was the first to report that Bickerstaff and the Cavs had agreed to a multiyear deal. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the deal is for four years and will run through the 2023-24 campaign.
The 41-year-old started this season with the Cavaliers as an associate head coach on John Beilein’s staff. He spent the previous two years as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies but was fired after a 33-49 record in 2018-19.
When Beilein resigned as Cleveland’s head coach on Feb. 19, the team promoted Bickerstaff to take over on a full-time basis.
“We are very fortunate to have someone of J.B.’s caliber and basketball pedigree lead our franchise as head coach,” Altman said in a statement released by the team. “His wealth of experience, coupled with the respect he has garnered around the NBA and with this team, has made for a seamless transition from associate head coach to head coach.
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The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon reported after Beilein’s resignation that Cavs players “began tuning Beilein out” during training camp and he had “shown no consistency in relating to players or in building lasting relationships with them.”
One unnamed Cavaliers player told Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor the change has been “night and day” going from Beilein to Bickerstaff: “[Beilein] didn’t know how to talk to people. He couldn’t communicate.”
After going 14-40 under Beilein, the Cavaliers have been a respectable 5-5 in 10 matches with Bickerstaff at the helm.
Bickerstaff previously coached in Houston and Memphis before coming to Cleveland. He led the Rockets to the playoffs in 2015-16.
Second-year guard Collin Sexton, a core piece of the rebuild, has been one of the driving forces behind the surge, averaging 25.4 points over the last 10 matches, which ranks 14th in the NBA. Only LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid are averaging more points per match with a higher field goal percentage. Sexton is also averaging 4.1 assists and 10.1 potential assists under Bickerstaff.
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