Cavaliers extend head coach Bickerstaff’s contract

Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff has received a multi-year contract extension for his role in the team’s dramatic turnaround.

Bickerstaff’s signing was announced on Saturday although the exact terms of the deal were not released but ESPN reported Bickerstaff is under contract through the 2026-27 season.

After winning just 22 games last season, the Cavs are 19-13 and fifth in the Eastern Conference. They recently won six straight games, but were hit with a COVID-19 outbreak and had to place eight players in health protocols.

Affable 42-year-old Bickerstaff took over when John Beilein walked away midway through the 2019 season. Prior to coaching in Cleveland, Bickerstaff was an interim coach in Houston and Memphis.

The Cavs won only 19 games in Bickerstaff’s abbreviated first season, but were showing great promise before the season was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cleveland was ravaged by injuries last season, and finished 22-50.

Expectations were low heading into this season, but the arrival of rookie forward Evan Mobley, the No 3 overall draft pick, and veteran guard Ricky Rubio have been huge factors in the Cavs’ rise this season. With one of the NBA’s youngest rosters, the Cavs have been a major surprise despite playing a demanding schedule. They’ve won 12 times against teams with winning records, and 14 wins have been by at least 10 points.

“J.B. Bickerstaff is, with all certainty, the right head coach to lead this franchise into what we believe is a very promising future,” Cavs GM Koby Altman said.

“The decision to extend J.B. is not based solely on the early success of this season, but rather a body of work since his arrival to Cleveland. His leadership style, coaching experience and commitment to player development has instilled a growing confidence that resonates across our entire organisation.

“We continue to see innovative and strategic examples of his impact on this roster, coupled by his unique ability to build upon a culture that leads to sustainable success.”

Cleveland’s defense has also improved dramatically under Bickerstaff. The Cavs have the league’s third-best defensive rating and are second to Golden State in points allowed.

The Cavs host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night.