Top 3 Assistant Coaches who could replace J.B. Bickerstaff for Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers are facing major decisions for the coaching staff and roster and may soon look to replace J.B. Bickerstaff after four-and-a-half seasons.
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After nearly a half decade under J.B. Bickerstaff, the Cleveland Cavaliers will likely begin searching for the next head coach for the organization alongside many other potential changes after another playoff defeat and looming concerns surrounding Bickerstaff's leadership.

Though nothing has been made official regarding Bickerstaff's job, the seat has never been hotter. The Cavaliers may still bring him back for another chance, but no NBA coach would happily enter a season with their job on the line every night. Similarly, players do not want uncertainty in their practices and locker room and may not respect their coach if they can disappear after any single loss.

Cavs President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman has more than enough questions to answer this offseason, but coaching may be the first one to target. In his time with Cleveland, Bickerstaff has brought the team to two NBA Playoff runs and one Play-In Tournament appearance. In the playoffs, Bickerstaff's Cavaliers have only won on the road once in a Game 2 blowout against the Boston Celtics in this year's second round. While his regular season resume has improved year by year, he is often out-coached and dismantled in the postseason.

Additionally, in what has become a growing trend among the NBA, a report detailed all the turmoil the team faced throughout the past years, including a lack of faith among superstar Donovan Mitchell and the rest of the Cavaliers in Bickerstaff. Players reportedly found practices unorganized and unproductive, and they were critical of Bickerstaff's offensive schemes during their recent playoff run.

With Bickerstaff likely on the way out, the Cavaliers' survey of the available coaching landscape will return modest results at best. Experienced head coaches are few and far between, and many of the options are open to hire for a reason.

Rather than getting caught in the NBA's growing NHL-inspired coaching carousel, the Cavaliers should explore options in current rival coaching staffs for a head assistant coach ready to leap to the top position. In the case Cleveland hires a proven assistant coach, their best targets should be those who currently or have worked for great coaching minds or successful franchises to find a candidate with years under a great mentor and a knowledge of what it takes to win.

Unsurprisingly, all of these talented assistants have appeared in the Los Angeles Lakers' list of potential head coaches. Assistant coaches on the league's best team are always the top candidates to ascend the ladder, and Los Angeles' decision will determine the choices other franchises make in their wake.

Coaching Candidate No. 1 - Sam Cassell, Boston Celtics

Former NBA point guard Sam Cassell has steadily risen in the NBA coaching mythos. With the Los Angeles Lakers' coaching search underway, Cassell has stated he is ready for a chance to run a team himself. If the Cavaliers begin their search before the Lakers hire Darvin Ham's replacement, Cassell should quickly make the top of the list.

After stints with the Washington Wizards and Lob City LA Clippers, Cassell joined the Philadelphia 76ers for three years before working as the Boston Celtics head assistant coach under Joe Mazzulla this past season. Cassell's vast experience in coaching and 15-year playing career should earn him a decidedly high reputation.

As a player, Cassell earned an All-NBA selection in 2004 and won three NBA titles with the Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics. After retirement following his third and final ring with the Celtics, Cassell began working as a coach and eventually found his way onto Doc Rivers' staff, his coach during the 2008 Boston Finals run. Despite Rivers' shaky reputation since his Celtics years, his trust in Cassell's intelligence from player to coach speaks volumes to his value in running a successful team.

The Lakers were granted permission by the Celtics to interview Cassell alongside other respected assistant coaches, meaning the Cavaliers would likely not worry about being blocked from hiring Cassell if he is available by then.