3 intriguing head coach candidates to consider if JB Bickerstaff gets fired

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff is on the hot seat, and these three coaches would be interesting replacements.
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The good news for Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff is that his team won Game One of the opening playoff series against the Orlando Magic 97-83. His team played well on both ends of the court while leading from start to finish. Unfortunately, that type of game for the team hasn’t always been the case this season.

The Cavaliers struggled down the stretch of the regular season but managed to grab the Number Four seed in the Eastern Conference standings. This is the same seed they had a year ago when they went up against the upstart New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. In that series, the Knicks won Game One and never looked back, beating the Cavs in five games.

With that series loss and the ups and downs of this season for Cleveland, their coach has been criticized even more, and there have been rumblings that Bickerstaff is on the hot seat. I believe like many others that the coach will have to win this opening-round series against the Magic to save his job. If he does get fired there are several candidates out there that would make for interesting replacements. 

If Bickerstaff is removed in the offseason, three potential coaches might be worth consideration as his replacement moving forward. One is a very experienced and already an NBA Championship coach. Another has ties to Cleveland from his past, and the other is one of the hottest names in the media sports world these days.

No. 1 Cavs Coaching Candidate: Mike Budenholzer

Mike Budenholzer has already won an NBA title with the Milwaukee Bucks and historically has had a stellar coaching career and winning pedigree. He was a long-time assistant (17 seasons) under Greg Popovich in San Antonio before his recent head coaching fame.  He first became a head coach with the Atlanta Hawks in 2013 and proceeded to take them to the playoffs for the next four seasons. He then moved to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018 and guided them to five straight post-season appearances including that NBA Title in 2021.

There had been rumors of Budenholzer being in the running for the Brooklyn Nets job, but his money demands of $8 million a year contract are just too much for most teams. But would that be the case for the Cavs' rich owner Dan Gilbert? Likely not, and Cleveland should have Budenholzer on their radar if this current season comes to an abrupt end with a playoff series loss to Orlando.

With Bickerstaff, the Cavs have made the playoffs twice and should have made it three times if it weren’t for Bickerstaff’s poor coaching at the end of the 2022 season that left the team a game out of the playoffs. So, while the team has shown progress they haven’t been able to get any further than just a one-and-done playoff series appearance. 

The biggest concern I have had with Bickerstaff is that he’s never shown as a coach that he can win constantly. When he was briefly coaching the Houston Rockets in his past he coached them in a first-round playoff series that they lost. He’s never gone further in the postseason and might not have the skill to take a team further.

Budenholzer's price tag is up there, but it is worth the cost for a team ready to compete in the Finals. Some NBA team is going to have Budenholzer as their next head coach, and if Cleveland wants to seriously contend for Championships, they should strongly consider this winning coach.