June 14, 2024

After their playoff loss to the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to make a leadership change, dismissing head coach J.B. Bickerstaff earlier this month after four years in the role.

At the subsequent press conference, Cavs President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman expressed gratitude for Bickerstaff’s service. He explained that the team felt they needed a new leadership perspective to reach the next level. Bickerstaff had guided the rebuilding Cavaliers to two playoff appearances in four and a half years, but his offensive strategies often became stagnant, leaving the team disjointed on that end of the court.

Koby Altman spearheaded Cleveland Cavaliers' 22-win improvement

Bickerstaff’s tenure with the Cavaliers was his first head coaching role, following assistant coaching positions with the Houston Rockets and Cleveland. He succeeded John Beilein, one of the poorest coaches in Cavs history, who was fired after just 54 games. Given the circumstances and the state of the team, Bickerstaff’s tenure can be considered a success. While the Cavaliers were ready for a new coach, Bickerstaff managed to lead a redundant and crowded roster to greater success than expected.

Following his dismissal, the Cavs have started their search for a new head coach, with three candidates emerging as frontrunners. The Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards are also seeking new coaches, but Cleveland’s loyalty to Bickerstaff and their improving chances to contend in the Eastern Conference should make them a prime destination for any head coach aiming for postseason success.

Marcus Morris, Sr. says Cavaliers locker room as ‘disconnected’ this season

Cavaliers Sign Marcus Morris Sr. for the Remainder of the Season | NBA.com

By the end of the Cavs’ season, the team’s attitude had noticeably declined. Following their elimination by Boston, reports emerged about deteriorating team chemistry and doubts about the core four’s long-term compatibility. The next day, Donovan Mitchell took to Twitter (X) to affirm his happiness in Cleveland, countering rumors of frustration with his teammates. He later reiterated his contentment as a Cavalier in an interview with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Despite Mitchell’s assurances, veteran forward Marcus Morris, Sr. revealed that the Cavs’ locker room experienced significant discontent by the season’s end. In an interview with Run It Back, Morris openly shared his view that Bickerstaff’s tenure with the Cavaliers had reached its limit, and the locker room had become disconnected.

After the trade deadline, Morris entered the buyout market following an agreement with the San Antonio Spurs in late February and subsequently joined the Cavaliers. Although he had limited playing time during the regular season, he emerged as a postseason hero due to Dean Wade’s injury and Georges Niang’s struggles in the playoffs. Over nine playoff games, Morris averaged 6.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 39.1 percent from three-point range in 15.3 minutes per game.

Morris mentioned that while Bickerstaff still had the locker room’s support, it felt like the right time for a change. He praised Bickerstaff as both a person and a coach, suggesting the Cavaliers needed a new voice. Given his brief tenure in Cleveland, Morris couldn’t speak with absolute certainty but was surprised by how players responded to Bickerstaff’s feedback.

This summer, Morris will enter free agency and might return to the Cavaliers after his strong postseason performance. His physicality and reliable shooting provided a much-needed boost when the team appeared down. If he doesn’t re-sign, his impact highlights the type of players the Cavaliers should prioritize—experienced forwards who can shoot and handle physical play on defense and the boards, a crucial component for the team’s journey to the Finals.

While Morris acknowledged the Cavaliers’ loss of morale this year, he offered a hopeful outlook for the future. He didn’t imply that the team was in severe conflict or on the verge of a Draymond Green-Jordan Poole type incident. With Darius Garland’s potential trade request and the crowded starting frontcourt, the players might have recognized their limitations as a unit. The need for change has come to Cleveland, and the coaching change is the first step towards a more unified and competitive Cavaliers team next season.

 

 

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