Cleveland sacks entire coaching staff

SunStar Basketball
SunStar Basketball

CLEVELAND — J.B. Bickerstaff won and still lost his job.

He dragged the Cleveland Cavaliers through some turbulent seasons, getting them back to the playoffs and deeper into the postseason than they’ve been without LeBron James on the roster in more than 30 years.

It wasn’t enough.

Bickerstaff was fired as Cleveland’s coach Thursday despite the Cavs improving in each of his four seasons and overcoming numerous injuries this year to make it to the second round of the playoffs.

His dismissal came a week after the Cavs were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals while playing the final two games without All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell or center Jarrett Allen.

Bickerstaff was successful, but other issues apparently led Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and president of basketball operations Koby Altman to make a move that at face value might seem extreme or even unfair.

The coaching change could trigger a summer shift for the Cavs, who are hoping to sign Mitchell to a long-term contract extension and could make major moves while being tied to whatever James ultimately decides to do.

James, who can opt out of his contract with the Lakers, attended Cleveland’s final home playoff game, raising speculation about him making another homecoming and playing a third stint with the Cavs — maybe a final career act.

That’s down the road.

In the short term, the Cavs have begun their search for a replacement for Bickerstaff.

“J.B. is a well-respected NBA coach and an incredible human being,” Altman said in a statement. “Over the past four years, he helped establish a culture that progressively drove players to become the best versions of themselves. Decisions like these are never easy, particularly when you look back at where this franchise rebuild started under his leadership. / AP


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