Bickerstaff Aiming To Make Cavs 'A Place Where People Want To Be'

Sam Amico

We don't know when the Cleveland Cavaliers will play again, but we do know that J.B. Bickerstaff will be the coach and Koby Altman will be the general manager.

Both Altman and Bickerstaff signed contract extensions earlier this season and that is a sign the franchise is aiming for some stability at the very top.

And when management shows stability ... well, that can often translate to the men in uniform. At least, that's the word from Bickerstaff.

"I think it's two-fold: I think there's on-court and off-court," Bickerstaff told Cavs.com about building a positive culture. "Off-court, the way we try to envision it is pretty simple. We want to make it a place that people want to stay and where people want to be."

The NBA suspended the season March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. There is no telling when or if the league will try to complete the 2019-20 calendar year.

Bickerstaff took over for John Beilein immediately following the All-Star break in mid-February. The Cavs (19-46) began to look like a different squad, with Bickerstaff's laid-back approach and knowledge of the NBA game quickly earning him respect from the players.

The Cavs were 5-6 under Bickerstaff at the hiatus.

A lot of times in the NBA, it comes down to how well a coach manage's people, as opposed to just the X's and O's. Bickerstaff is the son of a former NBA coach, Bernie Bickerstaff, now senior advisor with the Cavs.

J.B. had also spent plenty of time as NBA assistant, as well as some time as an interim coach, and the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies. Again, he knows pro sports.

In this league, it's all about word of mouth. Players talk to one another, their agents talk to other players and each other," Bickerstaff said. "And we're trying to create an environment where people feel that they can be the best version of themselves no matter what that is."

Bickerstaff added that management and the coaching staff are "not gonna try to put anybody into a box." Instead, they want the players to feel comfortable in expressing themselves individually.

"So we're trying to create that environment where everybody feels comfortable in their skin and they can just be who they are without any judgment," he said.

As for the on-the-court element, Bickerstaff basically has two goals. He said wants the Cavs to be more competitive than the opponent and "the most unselfish" team on the floor.

"You want a bunch of guys who have that grit and that toughness, but they also show their togetherness and they have each other's back," Bickerstaff said. "And I think if you start with that.

"When you have those two things, I think you give yourself an opportunity to win and you can be a really good basketball team for a long time."

Sam Amico covers the NBA and Cleveland Cavaliers for SI.com. Follow him @AmicoHoops.

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