J.B. Bickerstaff has served as the Memphis Grizzlies' interim coach since November, but Mike Conley believes he should remain in charge going forward.
"He definitely deserves this job," Conley said Thursday, per Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal.
Bickerstaff went 15-48 as the team's head coach this season.
The team had a 19-game losing streak during the middle of the season and finished with the second-worst record in the NBA.
Despite the struggles, however, the 39-year-old wants to return for 2018-19.
"I feel like we have started something," he said Thursday, per Clay Bailey of the Associated Press (via Washington Post). "We have started to build a culture. You want to be part of a group that you like. I think there’s going to be a tremendous bump next year, health permitting. I would love to be a part of it."
When healthy, Memphis still has two building blocks in Conley and Marc Gasol plus talented young players like JaMychal Green and Dillon Brooks. The team will also have a top-five pick in the potentially loaded 2018 NBA draft.
Bickerstaff has the familiarity with the team to turn things around after three years with the organization. He also has previous coaching experience, going 37-34 with the Rockets in 2015-16, plus 14 years in the NBA as an assistant.
Even without showing much signs of life this season, keeping Bickerstaff around could be a smart move for the Grizzlies.