Tom Gores welcomes new Detroit Pistons head coach J.B. Bickerstaff: ‘A passionate teacher’

July 3, 2024 | Homepage News The Pistons

Tom Gores welcomes new Detroit Pistons head coach J.B. Bickerstaff: ‘A passionate teacher’

DETROIT – The Detroit Pistons announced an agreement with J.B. Bickerstaff to join the organization as head coach.  Bickerstaff has already initiated the transition process, and begun player correspondence and staff development.

“I am pleased to have J.B. joining our franchise and commend our front office team on leading an extensive search,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said. “This is a pivotal time, and we need a leader who can immediately instill a culture of growth, development and inspiration.  After spending time with J.B., it’s clear he is a passionate teacher with a competitive spirit who knows what it takes to win in today’s NBA.  He’s also a strong communicator, which provides great synergy with Trajan and the front office team we have assembled.  He will be an outstanding partner in helping our players maximize their potential and compete consistently.”

Pistons President of Basketball Operations Trajan Langdon noted that Bickerstaff brings a leadership style and work ethic that is complementary to those he has already brought to Detroit in building out the basketball front office.

“I’m excited to welcome J.B. Bickerstaff as our head coach,” Langdon said.  “I am confident that he is going to create an environment for our players that will prioritize development while building a highly competitive atmosphere.  J.B. is a winner, a great communicator and will put systems in place to put our players in position to reach their potential.  I look forward to partnering with him in executing our vision.”

Bickerstaff, 45, comes to Detroit with 20 years of NBA coaching experience.  He most recently served as head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2020 to 2024, compiling a 170-159 (.517) regular season record over four-plus seasons. His teams reached the NBA Playoffs each of the past two years (2022-23 and 2023-24), including advancing to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2023-24.  Bickerstaff finished top-five in NBA Coach of the Year voting in 2021-22 and 2022-23.

“Detroit has a great basketball history and I look forward to the opportunity to join Trajan in building a product on the floor that everyone can be proud of,” Bickerstaff said.  “As Trajan and Tom expressed their collective goals, it aligns with how I coach and how I look to develop players and drive results.  We’re going to put a group of players on the floor that will compete each night and we won’t skip steps to be successful.”

Last season under Bickerstaff, the Cavaliers’ defense ranked seventh in both points allowed (110.2) and defensive rating (112.1) during the regular season. During the 2022-23 season, Bickerstaff led the Cavaliers to the franchise’s first 51-plus win season since 2016-17 and featured a defense that ranked first in the NBA in points allowed (106.9) and defensive rating (109.9), while being one of only three NBA teams to finish Top-10 in both offensive and defensive rating (Boston and Philadelphia). Before being promoted to head coach in Cleveland in February 2020, Bickerstaff was named associate head coach for the Cavaliers under John Beilein prior to the 2019-20 season.

Before his time in Cleveland, Bickerstaff served as associate head coach for the Memphis Grizzlies under David Fizdale during the 2016-17 season.  He took over as head coach for the Grizzlies from 2017 to 2019.  Bickerstaff was tasked with transitioning the Grizzlies from the “Grit-and-Grind” era led by veterans Marc Gasol and Mike Conley to a new era led by Jaren Jackson Jr.  In Bickerstaff’s first full season as head coach (2018-19), the Grizzlies’ defense improved year-over-year from 26th to ninth in defensive rating and 13th to third in points per game.

Prior to his time in Memphis, Bickerstaff spent five seasons with the Houston Rockets as assistant coach from 2011 to 2015.  He was named interim head coach of the Rockets during the 2015-16 season. Bickerstaff took over for Kevin McHale after 11 games of the 2015-16 season and finished the season 37-34 while qualifying for the NBA Playoffs. In four seasons with Bickerstaff as an assistant coach (2011-15), the Rockets amassed a 189-123 (.606) record while making three playoff appearances and one Western Conference Finals appearance.

Bickerstaff also spent four seasons (2007-11) as an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves under Randy Whitman (2007-09) and Kurt Rambis (2009-11).  He began his coaching career with the Charlotte Bobcats (2004-07) as an assistant coach alongside his father Bernie Bickerstaff, becoming the youngest assistant coach in the NBA at the age of 24.

Bickerstaff served as director of operations for the University of Minnesota’s men’s basketball program, overseeing all administrative areas of the program and assisting the coaching staff with recruiting, scouting and coaching.  He played two collegiate seasons (1999-2001) with the Golden Gophers and two years at Oregon State University, where he was the youngest Division I player as a 17-year-old freshman.

A native of Denver, Bickerstaff and his wife Nikki have three children: Blair, Blakely and Blade.

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