J.B. Bickerstaff (July 10, 2024) [600x400]
J.B. Bickerstaff (July 10, 2024) [600x400] (Credit: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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DETROIT -- J.B. Bickerstaff believes he can be the coach to finally turn around the Detroit Pistons, a once-proud franchise that has had the NBA's worst record the past two seasons.

The Pistons, who have lost a league-record 14 straight playoff games dating to 2008, hired Bickerstaff after he was fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers, a franchise the coach helped improve over four seasons.

Bickerstaff took over the Cavs in 2020, when John Beilein exited with a 14-40 record. He led them to the playoffs in each of the past two years, winning a first-round series this past season.

"I think the proof is there that we have the experience," Bickerstaff said Wednesday when he was formally introduced as Detroit's third coach in three years.

The Pistons were drawn to the 45-year-old Bickerstaff because he previously led three NBA teams, giving him a track record to help sell his vision to a mix of young players and veterans.

"You want somebody who can come in here and hit the ground running, and who's done this before," Pistons president of basketball operations Trajan Langdon said. "Especially with a young team coming off a difficult season, positivity was important.

"We felt experience was important. The players needed to feel like the person coming in here knew what he was talking about."

Bickerstaff, who twice finished among the top five in NBA Coach of the Year voting, was 170-159 in four-plus seasons in Cleveland and had six victories in the playoffs.

The Cavs fired Bickerstaff in May after winning 99 regular-season games over the past two seasons and losing to Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Detroit gave him a four-year contract, with a team option for a fifth season. He is replacing Monty Williams, who was fired one season into his six-year, $78.5 million contract.

Langdon is succeeding fired general manager Troy Weaver, whose teams in Detroit won 23% of their games in his four seasons.

While Langdon has made many moves to potentially make the team better on the court, his decision to give Bickerstaff another shot on the sideline was a recruiting process that Bickerstaff said he appreciates.

His previous head-coaching positions were all promotions -- in Houston, Memphis and Cleveland after Kevin McHale and David Fizdale were fired and Beilein resigned.

"All of us are human -- feels good to be wanted and sought after," Bickerstaff said. "The fact that Trajan reached out and gave me the call, let me know that he believed in me right away."

Detroit will have to overcome doubts to be a winner next season.

Cade Cunningham's improved surrounding cast, though, seems to set the team up for some level of improvement.

Cunningham, who agreed to a $224 million, five-year contract extension to stay in the Motor City, should have some more shooters to help spread the floor.

Langdon's early moves include signing Tobias Harris and Malik Beasley, acquiring Tim Hardaway Jr. from Dallas in a trade and selecting Ron Holland of the G League Ignite with the No. 5 pick in the NBA draft.

The veterans will be asked to produce while leading a group of young players that includes 20-year-old Jalen Duren, 21-year-old Ausar Thompson along with 22-year-olds Cunningham and Jaden Ivey.

"There's some high-level, high-ceiling potential guys," Bickerstaff said. "It's our responsibility to help them get there."