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Cavs dismiss head coach Bickerstaff

Boston Globe / Getty

The Cleveland Cavaliers dismissed head coach J.B. Bickerstaff after their second-round loss to the Boston Celtics, the team announced.

"J.B. is a well-respected NBA coach and an incredible human being," Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman said. "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.

"We owe a ton of gratitude for everything J.B. has contributed to the Cavaliers and his engagement in the Cleveland community."

Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and New Orleans Pelicans associate coach James Borrego are expected to be candidates for the vacant job, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Joe Vardon, and Jason Lloyd.

The Cavaliers won their first playoff series since 2018 under Bickerstaff, beating the Orlando Magic in the first round in seven games. It was their first non-LeBron James postseason victory since 1993. However, Cleveland lost in five contests to the Celtics in the conference semifinals.

Despite the loss, the organization is optimistic that Donovan Mitchell will sign a four-year, $208-million extension this offseason, Charania reported on FanDuel TV.

Multiple Cleveland players, including Mitchell, reportedly didn't have great confidence in Bickerstaff and questioned his game management, practices, and measures of accountability.

The franchise reportedly almost fired Bickerstaff around Thanksgiving after the team's slow start, and he was reprimanded by Altman in front of his coaching staff for playing Mitchell 45 minutes in a December win over the Houston Rockets while both Darius Garland and Evan Mobley were out.

The Cavaliers subsequently rattled off 22 wins between the middle of December and the All-Star break, but they lost momentum again, finishing the regular season 12-17.

Bickerstaff took over as interim coach from John Beilein in 2020. He went 170-159 as head coach in five seasons with the franchise and recorded 99 wins over the last two seasons.

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