Monday, May 27, 2024

Report: JB Bickerstaff’s High Usage Of Donovan Mitchell Was Reason Mitchell Provided When Declining Invitation To Play For Team USA Last Summer

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Mitchell averaged 35.8 minutes per game last season. He averaged 35.3 minutes per game this season. 

Cleveland president Koby Altman admonished Bickerstaff in front of his entire staff for playing Mitchell heavy minutes against the Houston Rockets on December 18. 

“Bickerstaff’s usage of Mitchell, league sources said, was a reason Mitchell provided when declining an invitation to play for USA Basketball last summer at the FIBA World Cup — a refusal that went a long way toward his exclusion from the Olympic team,” Charania, Vardon and Lloyd wrote. 

One of the top players in the NBA, Mitchell didn’t have great confidence in Bickerstaff, whose job is in serious jeopardy. The Cavaliers defeated the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs but lost to the Boston Celtics in the second round. 

Mitchell missed Games 4 and 5 with a left calf injury. 

“League sources briefed on the Cavaliers’ mindset told The Athletic that Bickerstaff’s job is in serious jeopardy after five and a half years as head coach, following the team’s season-ending loss in Game 5 of the second round to the Celtics,” Charania, Vardon and Lloyd wrote. “Two league sources said the team is likely to take some time — multiple days — to make a decision. … Multiple league sources have said, for months, that Mitchell did not have great confidence in Bickerstaff, and he was not alone.

“Several players questioned Bickerstaff’s strategies, game management, practice habits and accountability measures, privately and publicly, throughout the season.”

The Cavaliers could fire Bickerstaff this offseason. The front office is expected to offer Mitchell a max contract extension. 

A five-time All-Star, Mitchell appeared in 55 games this season. He averaged 26.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists while shooting 46.2% from the field, 36.8% from 3 and 86.5% from the free-throw line. 

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