The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2023-24 season came to an end on Wednesday night when the Boston Celtics took a 113-98 win in Game 5 to finish off the series. In the final two games of the series, the Cavs didn’t really stand much of a chance. In Game 4, Donovan Mitchell joined Jarrett Allen on the injured list with a calf strain, and then for Game 5, Caris LeVert, one of the Cavs players expected to step up amid Mitchell’s absence, had to go on the mend due to a knee injury.

As unfortunate as the Cavs were with injuries not just in the playoffs, but throughout the regular season as well, major changes might be coming for the franchise even though they have improved in linear fashion over the past three seasons. One of the changes that could come for them is in the head coaching department, with JB Bickerstaff’s job being in “serious jeopardy”, according to Shams Charania, Joe Vardon, and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.

Bickerstaff is under contract for around $5 million a year until 2026, but he is now on the hot seat reportedly due to his suboptimal relationship with Donovan Mitchell. According to The Athletic, “Mitchell did not have great confidence in Bickerstaff”, and that sentiment does not bode well for the Cavs’ chances of keeping their star man in Cleveland for the long haul.

Mitchell’s lack of belief in JB Bickerstaff seems to have permeated throughout the team. Reportedly, “multiple veterans in the Cavs locker room grew frustrated with Bickerstaff for treating the Cavs as a young team with much to learn” back in the 2023 NBA playoffs and then “they were also less than enthused by the Cavs’ offense last spring and into the first part of this season.” Moreover, they were also “perplexed by the lack of structure and intensity in the workouts”.

As good of a coach as one may be, it’s always difficult to hold down a long-term position in the NBA if one cannot get the full buy-in of a team, especially from its best player. The Cavs are on the clock, with Donovan Mitchell entering the final year of his contract, so it makes sense that they are going to put their best foot forward in convincing him to sign an extension.

To that end, the potential replacements the Cavs could look into show that they are, indeed, doing whatever they can to keep Spida in Cleveland.

JB Bickerstaff’s potential replacements, revealed

A few names have already emerged as JB Bickerstaff’s potential head coaching successors in Cleveland. According to Brett Siegel of ClutchPoints, three names stand out as replacements for the incumbent Cavs coach. The three are as follows: New York Knicks associate head coach Johnnie Bryant, Dallas Mavericks assistant Alex Jensen, and Boston Celtics assistant Sam Cassell.

The first two coaching candidates have a connection to Donovan Mitchell dating back to his days with the Utah Jazz. Bryant, who has helped the Knicks rise to their status as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference these days, was an assistant in Utah from 2014 to 2020, and he was Mitchell’s personal growth coach. That close relationship with Mitchell could end up doing wonders for the Cavs’ bid to keep him in town.

Jensen was a member of the Jazz franchise from 2013 to 2023, and his role back then was to be a player development assistant for the franchise. Thus, he also worked closely with Mitchell, whom the franchise drafted in 2017. He too is a coach who could be of Mitchell’s liking.

Meanwhile, Cassell, as a former NBA player and an accomplished assistant coach, warrants a ton of respect around the league. His voice could be one that Mitchell and the rest of the team listen to, and it seems like the Cavs would want someone whom the team believes in to be their coach.

Cavs’ performance under Bickerstaff, a summary

JB Bickerstaff stepped in as the Cavs’ head coach in 2020 after the team let renowned collegiate coach John Beilein go after just half a season. Under Bickerstaff, the Cavs’ performance improved year after year. In 2021, they finished with a 22-50 record, which gave them a bad enough record which then put them in position to draft Evan Mobley.

During the 2021-22 season, the Cavs improved immensely, with Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen even making the All-Star team. They won double the number of games (44) they did the season prior, but they were unable to make the playoffs after losing twice in the play-in.

Sensing the moment, the Cavs traded for Donovan Mitchell to expedite their contending timeline and they proceeded to win 50 games. However, they were knocked out in the first round in five games, disappointingly so. And then this season, they made it all the way to the second round, although injury woes doomed them in the end.

Year after year, the Cavs improved under Bickerstaff. But there’s a sense around the franchise that they’re leaving something on the table. It’s unclear if a coaching change is the answer, but it looks like Cleveland will be taking a risk in the hopes of discovering that it is.