Report: Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has been more engaged this season as J.B. Bickerstaff could fall into hot seat

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J.B. Bickerstaff’s proverbial seat may be getting hotter because of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ mediocre start to the season, and ESPN insider Brian Windhorst recently mentioned that owner Dan Gilbert has been more engaged with the team than he has been in recent years.

Windhorst was discussing Bickerstaff’s status with host Andre Knott during a radio interview this week.

“Andre, there’s two things goin’ on,” Windhorst said. “No. 1, I think J.B., fair or not, is in a little bit of a results situation after the way last season ended. That’s just true. And if the Cavs are one game over .500 in three weeks, we’re gonna be talking about that more.

“I said I would let this team go for a while before you do that. But I’m not making that decision. … I think the owner has been more engaged this year than in recent years.”

Bickerstaff is in his fifth season as Cavaliers head coach and reached the playoffs for the first time last season. Following a 51-win regular season, the Cavs were eliminated in the first round by the New York Knicks in just five games. That disappointing result, combined with a middling 8-7 start to this season, could have the 44-year-old’s job in jeopardy.

In the past, Gilbert has not been shy about making a coaching change during the season. In fact, Bickerstaff replaced John Beilein late in the 2019-20 NBA season. That was after Larry Drew replaced Tyronn Lue just six games into the 2018-19 campaign.

Of course, Lue famously replaced David Blatt during the 2015-16 season, which eventually resulted in the Cavaliers’ only NBA championship.

All of that may not bode well for Bickerstaff if Gilbert is indeed getting antsy about this season’s team and the future of the club. The Cavs looked to have turned the corner after a 1-3 start and recently fashioned a four-game winning streak. But that ended with a discouraging 129-96 home loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday.

Cleveland continues its five-game homestand against one of the hottest teams in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers, on Saturday.

Bickerstaff has a 130-132 record as head coach of the Cavs with one playoff appearance. The franchise also has to consider the effect a coaching change may have on star Donovan Mitchell, whose future with the club remains in constant doubt.

The 27-year-old has missed the past four games while dealing with a hamstring injury, and starters Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland also have missed time with injuries this season. Those absences may be able to be used in defense of Bickerstaff’s job performance to this point, but like Windhorst said, it’s worth keeping an eye on where the Cavaliers find themselves in the standings next month.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.