Cavaliers players are rebelling against new coach John Beilein and believe he’s running the team like he’s still in college, according to Joe Vardon and Shams Charania of The Athletic. Some players have already tuned out Beilein and are seeking guidance from lead assistant J.B. Bickerstaff, the authors add.
“Guys drowned out his voice, and when guys start searching for the next in line for help, I believe you’ve lost them,” one player said anonymously.
“Our assistants are definitely more prepared for the NBA,” another claimed.
The 66-year-old Beilein is floundering in his first professional season after more than a quarter century as a successful college coach. The Cavs have dropped four straight games and 10 of their last 11, falling to 5-15 overall. They are coming off a 33-point loss to Pistons on Tuesday, which was followed by a Wednesday film session where both sides expressed their frustrations over what has gone wrong, according to sources.
Player grievances include “nitpicking” over fundamentals, “harping” during long film studies and Beilein’s alleged failure to understand the NBA game. Sources tell Vardon and Charania that the complaints run through the entire team and aren’t limited to any demographic.
The Cavaliers hired Beilein in May after interviewing nearly a dozen other candidates. He was given a five-year contract and was surrounded by a few experienced assistants. In addition to Bickerstaff, who has prior head coaching experience with the Rockets and Grizzlies, Cleveland brought in Andrew Lang and Dan Geriot, along with Lindsay Gottlieb, who is also in her first NBA season after serving as head coach at California-Berkley.
Beilein was chosen after a face-to-face meeting with team chairman Dan Gilbert because of his history of developing young players, who make up the core of the roster in the second year of a rebuilding project. With seven veterans on the final year of their contracts, there may be a lot of turnover by February’s trade deadline, which could give Beilein a fresh chance to gain the confidence of his team.