Cleveland Cavaliers Fire J.B. Bickerstaff, per Report

Bickerstaff finishes his Cavaliers coaching career with a 170-159 record.
JB Bickerstaff
JB Bickerstaff / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
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On Thursday, the Cleveland Cavaliers decided they needed to make a change. Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cavs decided to dismiss head coach J.B. Bickerstaff after the team was eliminated in the second round of this year's postseason. The insider notes the change comes with the hope of advancing further into the playoffs in the future.

The news may come as a shock given this past season marked the deepest playoff run in Cleveland since LeBron James' final season in uniform back in 2017-'18. Bickerstaff helped navigate the roster through some dramatic injury issues during the season, and the Cavs did not roll over against the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs despite injuries that knocked out Jarrett Allen for every game and Donovan Mitchell for the final two.

However, the end-of-season information dump suggested not all was well. In the immediate aftermath of Cleveland's elimination at the hands of Boston, Shams Charania reported for The Athletic that players had been questioning Bickerstaff's strategies all season long and generally did not understand what he was doing. Even a strong finish to the season relative to the challenges the team faced did not fix a lack of faith in the head coach, it would seem.

Bickerstaff took over for John Beilein as the interim head coach after he stepped down late in the 2019-'20 season and was named the full-time head coach shortly thereafter. He ushered along the developments of Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, as well as integrated Mitchell into the lineup after the blockbuster trade that landed the All-Star guard with the Cavs ahead of the 2022-'23 season.

But it seems the Cavaliers believe Bickerstaff did not do enough with the talent at his disposal. Cleveland lost in embarrassing fashion to the New York Knicks in the first round of last year's postseason and were blown out several times by the young, inexperienced Orlando Magic in the first round of this year's playoffs. The Cavs ultimately prevailed in seven games in the latter instance, but never really had a chance against the Celtics.

Bickerstaff, who went 170-159 in Cleveland and boasts a lifetime head coaching record of 255-290, is now a potential candidate for the other open jobs on the market. The Cavs, meanwhile, will embark on a search for a head coach that they hope will get the roster to compete with the heavyweights of the Eastern Conference.

It will be a critical offseason in Cleveland.

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Liam McKeone


Liam McKeone is a Senior Writer for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. In addition to his role as a writer, he collaborates with other teams across Minute Media to help define his team’s content strategy. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in 2024, Liam worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, Liam is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books, and video games. Liam has been a member of the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) since 2020.