Grizzlies keep Bickerstaff as coach despite poor season

J. B. Bickerstaff’s time in charge of the Memphis Grizzlies has been difficult so far. (AFP pic)

CHICAGO: J. B. Bickerstaff, who managed only 15 wins in 63 games as interim coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, was named on Tuesday by the NBA club as its new full-time head coach.

David Fizdale was fired as coach of the Grizzlies last November after an eight-game losing streak and a 7-12 start, leading to associate coach Bickerstaff stepping in on an interim basis.

The Grizzlies went 15-48 the remainder of the campaign to finish 22-60, one game ahead of Phoenix to avoid having the NBA’s worst record last season.

“J. B. did an admirable job as interim head coach last season in what was a challenging set of circumstances,” Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said.

“J. B. has connected with our players and earned their respect throughout his time in Memphis and we have been pleased with his role in developing our young players. We are excited to see him coach with a full off-season and a healthy roster next season.”

The Grizzlies missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and matched their worst full-season record since the club moved to Tennessee from Vancouver, Canada, in 2001. They also went 22-60 in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Bickerstaff, 39, had been an NBA assistant coach since 2004, spending three seasons with Charlotte, four with Minnesota, and five with Houston, serving as interim coach of the Rockets in 2015-16 and guiding Houston to a 37-34 finish and a playoff berth.