Report: Cavaliers May Have Fired JB Bickerstaff Had They Lost To Pistons In December

According to NBA insider Joe Vardon of The Athletic, the Cleveland Cavaliers may have fired head coach JB Bickerstaff had they lost to the Detroit Pistons on December 2. 

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“No Cavs official has ever come out and said Bickerstaff was being reviewed for a firing, but it was perhaps the hot chatter around the Association during the season’s first two months, among players, agents and rival executives,” Vardon wrote. “A brutal home loss to lowly Portland on Nov. 30 was followed by a road game two nights later at Detroit, which was in the midst of a historic losing streak. Had the Cavs lost to the Pistons, multiple league sources say Bickerstaff may not have survived it. But Cleveland won that game and the two after it.”

The Cavaliers went 48-34 during the regular season. They were 20th in the NBA in points per game, seventh in points per game allowed and 13th in net rating. 

Cleveland defeated the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 2024 playoffs in seven games. The team is currently down 2-1 to the Boston Celtics in the second round. 

An NBA exec told Hoops Wire in Apri that the Cavaliers could fire Bickerstaff in the offseason if the team doesn’t make it to the conference finals. 

“JB could get fired if the Cavs don’t make it to the conference finals,” the NBA exec told Hoops Wire. “He was almost fired earlier in the season before the team got its act together. There are people inside that organization who can’t fathom how a team with Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland is so poor at scoring the ball.

“JB is 100% on the hot seat and he knows it.”

Mitchell can sign an extension for up to four years and about $200 million this summer. The 27-year-old has a player option worth $37 million for the 2025-26 season.

Mitchell can become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason of 2025 if he declines that player option.

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