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Cavs Notes

J.B. Bickerstaff named Cavs associate head coach; John Beilein's formal introduction is tomorrow

  • Cavaliers-Bickerstaff-Basketball

    Memphis Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff calls to players in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, in Memphis, Tenn. on March 23. The Cavaliers have added Bickerstaff to John Beilein’s staff as an associate head coach. Bickerstaff was a candidate for Cleveland’s opening and interviewed for the job before the Cavs lured Beilein away from Michigan after a successful 12-year run. Bickerstaff was fired in April by Memphis following a disappointing 33-49 season. Bickerstaff’s father, Bernie, is a senior adviser with the Cavs.

    BRANDON DILL / AP FILE

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John Beilein, who will be introduced as Cavaliers head coach at an 11 a.m. press conference Tuesday at Cleveland Clinic Courts, has his lead assistant.

The Cavs officially announced late Sunday that they had hired J.B. Bickerstaff, who spent last season as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, as associate head coach.

“Having someone with J.B.’s level of experience join Coach Beilein, in partnership and leadership, to guide our team is something we are confident is an excellent addition for us,” Cavs general manager Koby Altman said in a press release. “J.B. has spent his entire life in and around the game, and his knowledge of the league and basketball will bring a full spectrum of value to the team.

“His approach to coaching and everything on the court and off is exactly the kind of perspective, commitment and integrity we want for the culture and growth we will drive here.”

The 66-year-old Beilein has 41 years of college head coaching experience, including the last 12 seasons at Michigan, but is new to the NBA.

“When I spoke with J.B., I quickly realized that we share many of the same core values, principles and views about coaching basketball and team culture,” Beilein said in the press release. “I also think J.B. will bring ideas and leadership that will complement my approach well and help the team in very impactful ways. I can’t wait to merge all his years of NBA experience and expertise into the full vision for the team.”

Beilein replaces Larry Drew, who parted ways with the Cavs following a 19-63 season in 2018-19. Drew had been associate head coach under Tyronn Lue, but took over when Lue was fired six games into the season. Lue had previously been associate head coach under David Blatt, but took over when Blatt was fired midway through the Cavs’ 2015-16 championship season.

Bickerstaff was named Grizzlies head coach on April 30, 2018. He had served as interim head coach for the final 63 games of the 2017-18 season.

Under Bickerstaff last season, Memphis recorded the third-best scoring defense in the NBA, holding opponents to 106.1 points. The Grizzlies also held a league-high 10 opponents under 90 points and went undefeated in those games.

Prior to joining the Grizzlies, Bickerstaff spent five seasons (2011-16) as an assistant with the Houston Rockets, where he was elevated to interim head coach early in the 2015-16 season. He guided the Rockets to a 37-34 finish and playoff berth.

Bickerstaff also has served as an NBA assistant with Minnesota (2007-11) and Charlotte (2004-07). In Charlotte, he worked under his father, Bernie Bickerstaff, who is now an advisor with the Cavs. At 25, J.B. Bickerstaff was the youngest assistant in the league when he joined Charlotte. At 29, his dad also was the youngest assistant in the NBA when he came into the league in 1973.

J.B. Bickerstaff previously worked at the college level with Minnesota. He also played two seasons for the Golden Gophers after spending his first two years at Oregon State.

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Follow him @RickNoland on Twitter.


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