Bernie Bickerstaff, Washington Bullet assistant coach, is being considered as a replacement for Bill Fitch as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Fitch left the Cavaliers at the end of last season and became coach of the Boston Celtics.
Cavalier owner Nick Mileti is interviewing several candidates and said yesterday he will give a great deal of consideration to Bickerstaff.
Bickerstaff, 34, has been a Bullet assistant for six seasons, three under K. C. Jones and the last three under Dick Motta. During Bickerstaff's tenure, the Bullets have been to the National Basketball Association finals three times, winning once.
He is considered one of the top young assistants in the NBA and his name is often mentioned when eoaching vacancies occur in the league.
Bickerstaff said yesterday that Mileti had called him and asked if he was interested in the job. Bickerstaff replied that he was and said he will fly to Cleveland Saturday to meet with Mileti.
Bullet owner Abe Pollin said Mileti had contacted him and was given permission to talk to Bickerstaff.
"Sure I'm interested," Bickerstaff said. "#I'll go out there and see what they have to say. They have the talent to win. It's just a question of getting them motivated."
Bickerstaff added that he is interested $&(WORD ILLEGIBLE in becoming the team's personnel director if he is hired as coach.
"I'm rooting for Bernie to get the job," Pollin said. "That's why I gave them permission to talk to him. We would miss Bernie a lot here, but I would like to see him get the opportunity to be a head coach. He deserves it. I gave him as good a recommendation as I possibly could because I think very highly of him."
Mileti already has interviewed Bill Musselman, former University of Minnesota and American Basketball Association coach who coached in the minor-league Western Basketball League last season; Jack McCloskey and Stan Albeck, former Los Angeles Laker assistants, and Nate Thurmond, former Cavalier center.
Mileti said he will interview Willis Reed, former New York Knick coach, today. He added that those men, along with Bickerstaff and Al Bianchi, Phoenix Suns assistant, are the leading candidates for the job.
"There is a lot of talent out there," Mileti said. He is expected to make a decision shortly.
The Cavalier players met several weeks ago to list the people they would like to have coach the team. Bickerstaff and Thurmond headed that list.
Bullet Coach Motta is one of Bickerstaff's biggest supporters.
"The single most important decision I've made as coach of the Bullets was hiring Bernie Bickerstaff," Motta has said. "I feel completely confident leaving a game in Bernie's hands if I get thrown out.
"If I didn't think he was capable of coaching the team, I wouldn't have him working for me."
Bickerstaff began coaching at his alma mater, the University of San Diego, at 25. He was there four seasons, then became Jones' assistant when Jones became Bullet coach in 1973. At the time he was the youngest assistant in the NBA. CAPTION: Picture, Bernie Bickerstaff