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Cleveland, OH – The Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to terms with J.B. Bickerstaff to become the team’s associate head coach, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced on May 19 from Cleveland Clinic Courts.
"We couldn’t be happier or feel more fortunate that J.B. is joining us 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,” said Altman. “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.”
“This was a very easy decision to add J.B. as our associate head coach. He is a respected and accomplished coach who I’m very excited and fortunate to have next to me,” said Cavaliers Head Coach John Beilein. “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. 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.”
Bickerstaff was most recently the Memphis Grizzlies head coach for the 2018-19 season after being named to the position on April 30, 2018 following serving as the interim head coach for the final 63 games of the 2017-18 Grizzlies campaign. Under Bickerstaff last season, Memphis recorded the third-best scoring defense in the NBA, holding opponents to 106.1 points per game. The Grizzlies also held an NBA-high 10 opponents under 90 points last season and went undefeated in those games. Memphis limited 17 opponents to under 40 percent shooting last season, which was tied with Utah for the second-most in the NBA.
Prior to his stint with Memphis, Bickerstaff spent five seasons (2011-16) with the Houston Rockets, where he was elevated to interim head coach early in the 2015-16 season and guided the Rockets to a 37-34 finish to close the season with a postseason berth.
Bickerstaff’s additional experience as an assistant coach includes four seasons (2007-11) with the Minnesota Timberwolves and three seasons (2004-07) with the Charlotte Bobcats under his father and current Cavaliers Senior Basketball Advisor, Bernie Bickerstaff. The youngest assistant coach in the NBA at age 25 when he began with the Bobcats in 2004-05, Bickerstaff followed in the footsteps of his father, who was the youngest assistant coach when he joined the NBA at 29 years old in 1973.
Prior to his time on the NBA sidelines, Bickerstaff served as director of operations for the University of Minnesota’s men’s basketball program, overseeing all administrative areas of the program and assisting the coaching staff with recruiting, scouting and coaching. Bickerstaff played two seasons (1999-2001) with the Golden Gophers to complete his collegiate career after playing his first two years at Oregon State University, where he was the youngest Division I player as a 17-year-old freshman.