CLEVELAND - The Cavaliers will continue to rebuild with a new coach. Larry Drew’s run is over after one season.
The team parted ways Thursday with Drew, who took over as the Cavs coach in October and led the club to 19 wins amid a swarm of injuries in Cleveland’s first season since LeBron James left as a free agent.
The Cavs tied for the NBA’s second-worst record, but Drew earned praise for keeping his team competitive despite a young roster and only having All-Star forward Kevin Love for 22 games because of injuries.
“We have great respect and appreciation for Larry and the job that he did as the head coach of the Cavaliers for nearly the entire 2018-19 campaign. He brought professionalism, class and steady leadership both this past season and prior four years,” general manager Koby Altman said in a release. “Larry and I had a productive discussion about this past season, the future of the franchise and the search process that we will shortly launch regarding the head coaching role.
Drew took over when Tyronn Lue was fired Oct. 28 following a 0-6 start. The 61-year-old Drew had been with the Cavs since 2016, when he was brought to Cleveland by Lue. The team won the NBA title in Drew’s first season on Lue’s staff.
Grizzlies axe Bickerstaff
In Memphis, the Grizzlies started the offseason Thursday with plenty of questions to answer, then controlling owner Robert Pera added to the to-do list by firing coach J.B. Bickerstaff as part of a front-office shake-up that demoted general manager Chris Wallace to scout.
The Grizzlies announced the moves after both Bickerstaff and Wallace spoke to reporters following a second straight season outside the playoffs. After a 12-5 start, Memphis plummeted and finished 33-49, tied with New Orleans and Dallas.
Wallace had said earlier that Bickerstaff would be returning after doing a “terrific job.” But Pera didn’t agree and restructured the front office a few hours later.
“In order to put our team on the path to sustainable success, it was necessary to change our approach to basketball operations,” Pera said in a statement. “I look forward to a re-energized front office and fresh approach to Memphis Grizzlies basketball under new leadership, while retaining the identity and values that have distinguished our team.”
The Grizzlies also announced that Jason Wexler will be president of the Grizzlies overseeing both basketball and business operations, and Zachary Z. Kleiman replaces John Hollinger as executive vice president of basketball operations with Hollinger moving to an advisory role.
Kings fire Joerger
Sacramento’s best season in 13 years wasn’t enough to save coach Dave Joerger’s job.
General manager Vlade Divac fired Joerger on Thursday after he helped develop the young Kings into playoff contenders before ultimately falling short in the franchise’s 13th straight losing season.
“I think he did a great job to make that step,” Divac said. “But moving forward, I just felt like we had to go a different direction. It’s been three years and we made some progress. This year was a good season but I think we could do more, especially after All-Star break.”
Divac said he had been contemplating the decision to change coaches for a while and ultimately made it after the team stumbled to the finish with a 9-16 record after the All-Star break. The poor stretch run left Sacramento with a 39-43 record, nine games out of a playoff spot after being tied for the eighth spot in the West heading into the final game before the break.
Divac made the move official just hours after he was given an extension through the 2022-23 season by owner Vivek Ranadive. Divac took over as GM before the 2015-16 season and helped bring in some of the key pieces that have led to the improvement this year, including guards Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox and big men Marvin Bagley III, Willie Cauley-Stein and Harry Giles.