J.B. Bickerstaff joins small group of NBA coaches

Cleveland Cavaliers J.B. Bickerstaff (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers J.B. Bickerstaff (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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NBA J.B. Bickerstaff
Cleveland Cavaliers, J.B. Bickerstaff (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

When the Cleveland Cavaliers face the Washington Wizards Friday, new coach J.B. Bickerstaff will become the 12th NBA coach to take over in midseason 3 times.

With the elevation of J.B. Bickerstaff on Wednesday from coach-in-waiting to head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, it marked the third time in the last five seasons Bickerstaff was promoted to the lead chair on an NBA bench during the season.

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However, he won’t win the title of the people’s interim coach since Wednesday’s move by Cleveland was to promote him from associate head coach to head coach in the wake of John Beilein’s messy departure after 54 games as an NBA coach following 37 seasons at the collegiate level.

Bickerstaff was elevated to interim coach in November 2015 by the Houston Rockets, going 37-34 after replacing Kevin McHale before being bounced from the playoffs in five games. In 2017-18, Bickerstaff was named interim coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and was 15-48 after stepping in for David Fizdale before he earned the full-time coaching gig.

After a 33-49 season in 2018-19, Bickerstaff was fired on April 11 and joined the Cavs as lead assistant, with an idea he would eventually replace Beilein, who was 66 at the time he was hired.

With his elevation in midseason, Bickerstaff becomes just the 12th NBA coach to be elevated to the head coaching role during a season three different times. It is an eclectic list that a Hall of Fame coach, another current NBA head coach and several coaching lifers.

The first to join the club was Hall of Famer Red Holzman, who was re-hired as head coach of the New York Knicks in 1978 to replace the former player that had replaced him, Willis Reed.

Holzman had previously taken over the reins of the Milwaukee Hawks during the 1953-54 season and began his first tour with the Knicks during the 1967-68 season.

Holzman coached the Hawks for parts of four seasons, including moving with the team from Milwaukee to St. Louis in 1955, posting a record of 83-120 overall and going 4-4 in the playoffs.

In his two tenures with the Knicks, Holzman was 613-483 in the regular season over parts of 14 seasons, earning Coach of the Year honors in 1969-70, leading New York to two NBA titles (1970 and 1973) and posting a 54-43 playoff record. He was named one of the top 10 coaches in NBA history during the league’s 50thanniversary celebration in 1996.

There have been 184 different coaches elevated during an NBA (or its predecessor in the Basketball Association of America) season, including 32 who have done it twice. That’s not counting 19 of the 24 coaches so elevated in the old American Basketball Association. The other five were also on the NBA list, per research conducted at Basketball-Reference.com.

Here are the other members of the three-timer club.