Sources: Cavs to take time to evaluate J.B. Bickerstaff’s future

According to sources, the Cleveland Cavaliers will take their time to evaluate J.B. Bickerstaff’s future as head coach following their season-ending loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Bickerstaff expressed his desire to continue leading the team during his postgame news conference, highlighting the progress they have made each year and the improvement of the players. He stated that Cleveland is a place he wants to be and will continue showing up until told otherwise. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the organization remains fond of Bickerstaff but will take the necessary time to assess his future. Bickerstaff has been the head coach for over four seasons and has guided the team to consecutive playoff appearances, including a first-round series win in these playoffs. However, the future of Cavaliers star guard Donovan Mitchell, who missed Game 5 due to a left calf strain, is also a significant concern for the team as they enter the offseason.
Mitchell, who was traded to the Cavaliers 18 months ago in exchange for Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, and future first-round picks, has been a standout player in Cleveland, earning back-to-back All-Star selections. He displayed exceptional performance in the playoffs before sustaining an injury. Mitchell became only the second Cavalier, alongside James, to score at least 25 points in six consecutive playoff games.

With one year remaining on his contract and a player option for the 2025-26 season, Mitchell now faces the decision of committing to Cleveland in the long term. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, he could potentially sign a four-year, $208 million extension with the team.

Due to his absence from the game, Mitchell did not communicate with the media on Wednesday night. When asked about the situation surrounding Mitchell and the Cavaliers, head coach Bickerstaff emphasized the attractive aspects of the team that could influence Mitchell’s decision.

“We have a strong team,” Bickerstaff stated. “We possess talented individual players and high-character individuals who prioritize winning. When you have those qualities, you create opportunities for success. I would love to see our team perform at full strength for an entire season and witness the impact we can make in the league. We have a talented basketball team, players who strive for victory and continuous improvement.”
In the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers faced multiple health issues. Donovan Mitchell missed the final two games, while starting center Jarrett Allen was absent for the last eight due to a bruised rib. Throughout the regular season, Cleveland’s core players – Mitchell, Allen, Darius Garland, and Evan Mobley – only played together in 28 games. In the 392 minutes they shared the court, they outscored opponents by a slim margin of 2.2 points per 100 possessions.

The chemistry between Mitchell, Garland, Mobley, and Allen was sometimes awkward, especially with the two non-shooting big men, Mobley and Allen, in the frontcourt. However, Mobley showed his potential during the series, particularly in Game 5, where he scored 33 points on 15-for-24 shooting. Garland also had a standout performance in Game 4 with 30 points, although he struggled with shooting in that game, going 4-for-17. In Game 5, Garland contributed 11 points and 9 assists with LeBron James and their shared agent, Rich Paul, watching courtside.

Despite high expectations, the Cavaliers couldn’t find their rhythm throughout the season. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and several players, including Max Strus, acknowledged the team faced significant adversity. As they head into the offseason, Cleveland is uncertain about its future direction, including the fate of their head coach and star player.

Looking ahead, Garland expressed hope for the future, aiming to make another leap next year. He envisions the team being fully healthy and reaching the Eastern Conference finals. Reflecting on his journey since being drafted, Garland acknowledged the progress made from 19 wins to reaching the conference semifinals. He remains focused on continuous improvement year after year.