Report: Several coaches linked to Cavs as potential J.B. Bickerstaff replacements

3 Min Read
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

While J.B. Bickerstaff is still the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, three assistant coaches across the NBA have emerged as potential replacements if Bickerstaff’s time in Cleveland were to come to an end soon.

“If [Donovan] Mitchell decides that Bickerstaff isn’t the right fit for him and his long-term future with the Cavaliers, then sources have shared with Right Down Euclid that New York Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant, Dallas Mavericks assistant Alex Jensen and Boston Celtics assistant Sam Cassell could be on the short list of candidates,” Evan Dammarell wrote.

“Both Bryant and Jensen have experience with Mitchell from their time together in Utah, with Bryant serving as Mitchell’s personal growth and development coach.”

Interestingly, the teams of all three coaches linked to the Cavaliers are still in the hunt for the 2024 NBA title. The Celtics just recently advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the third year in a row, the Knicks own a 3-2 series lead in their second-round series against the Indiana Pacers and the Mavericks hold a 3-2 series lead in their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

What Cassell, Bryant and Jensen have in common is that they all have 10-plus seasons of experience coaching at the NBA level. Jensen and Bryant have been part of NBA coaching staffs since the 2014-15 season, while Cassell has been in the league’s coaching ranks for a bit longer, considering he began his coaching career with the Washington Wizards in the 2009-10 season.

Unfortunately, none of the three assistant coaches linked to the Cavaliers have helped coach a team to an NBA title. The only one to help coach a team to an appearance in a conference finals is Cassell, as the Celtics secured their spot in the 2024 Eastern Conference Finals after Wednesday’s Game 5 win over the Cavaliers.

Cassell is also the only one of the trio who played in the NBA. While he hasn’t won a title as part of a coaching staff just yet, he won three titles during his playing days. Two of those titles came with the Houston Rockets — who were led by one of the better big men in NBA history in Hakeem Olajuwon — in 1994 and 1995, and he won his third and final title with the Celtics in 2008.

It was recently reported that Cassell is a leading candidate for the Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching job. L.A. has already been granted permission to interview the 54-year-old.

If the Cavaliers indeed decide to part ways with Bickerstaff before the start of the 2024-25 season, Cassell, Bryant and Jensen all stand out as coaches who may have the experience needed to step in and adequately replace the 45-year-old Colorado native.

Share This Article
Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.