Memphis Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace today announced that the organization has hired J.B. Bickerstaff as associate head coach and Nick Van Exel as an assistant coach on Grizzlies Head Coach David Fizdale’s staff. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.
Bickerstaff comes to Memphis after spending five seasons (2011-16) on the sidelines with the Houston Rockets. First hired as an assistant coach, he was later named interim head coach in November 2015 and guided the Rockets to a 37-34 record and postseason berth to close the 2015-16 season. Prior his time in Houston, Bickerstaff spent four seasons (2007-11) as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves and three seasons (2004-07) as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Bobcats under his father, Bernie Bickerstaff. He was the youngest assistant coach in the NBA when he began with the Bobcats at age 25 in 2004-05.
Before beginning his NBA coaching career, Bickerstaff provided color analysis on radio broadcasts for the Timberwolves during the 2003-04 season. Prior to that, he served as director of operations for the University of Minnesota’s men’s basketball program where he oversaw all administrative areas of the program and assisted the coaching staff with recruiting, scouting and coaching. Bickerstaff played two seasons with the Golden Gophers (1999-2001) to complete his collegiate career after playing two seasons at Oregon State University, where he was the youngest NCAA Division I player as a 17-year-old freshman.
Van Exel joins the Grizzlies after spending the last two seasons (2014-16) with the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends, serving as head coach during the 2015-16 season. Before his time in the D-League, the Kenosha, Wis. native spent one season (2013-14) as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks and three seasons (2010-13) as a player development instructor for the Atlanta Hawks. Van Exel got his coaching start as an assistant coach for Texas Southern University in 2009-10.
Selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round (37th overall) of the 1993 NBA Draft, Van Exel enjoyed a 13-year career as an NBA player (1993-2006), including 76 playoff games and one All-Star appearance (1998), with career averages of 14.4 points and 6.6 assists for the Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs. An NBA All-Rookie Second Team selection in 1994, Van Exel spent his final two collegiate seasons at the University of Cincinnati, where he led the Bearcats to the 1993 NCAA Final Four as a senior and earned Third Team All-American honors in addition to being selected as a finalist for the Wooden Award.
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