Report: John Beilein eyeing J.B. Bickerstaff for top assistant coach role with Cavaliers

At a spry 66 years old, former Michigan coach John Beilein has landed his first NBA head coaching job with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

As with any new coach in the NBA, Beilein would benefit from some experience on his first coaching staff. His first choice: former Memphis Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Bickerstaff was fired this offseason amid a front office upheaval after two seasons with the Grizzlies. The 44-year-old racked up a 48-97 record in Memphis that sounds rough on the surface, but the Grizzlies’ 33 wins this season is impressive when you consider the litany of injuries they had to deal with.

Another indication that Bickerstaff is a stronger coach than his previous record is that he still emerged as a candidate for the head coaching job with the Los Angeles Lakers and Cavaliers. Of course, placing trust in the Lakers’ decisions is a dangerous game these days.

Memphis Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff calls to players during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
J.B. Bickerstaff could be a good fit for John Beilein's Cavaliers staff. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Prior to his Grizzlies tenure, Bickerstaff worked as an NBA assistant for over a decade with the Charlotte Bobcats, Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets. He also served an interim head coach with the Rockets after the firing of Kevin McHale.

Beilein has spent his entire coaching career at schools, going from Newfane High School to the University of Michigan over several decades. He is the rare NBA coaching hire with no NBA experience, playing or coaching. An NBA lifer as his top assistant would obviously be a prudent move.

The Cavaliers might also be an attractive home for Bickerstaff, as his father Bernie Bickerstaff is a senior basketball advisor there.

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