Cavaliers Notes: Beilein, Bickerstaff, Rebuild

On the day that he officially stepped down as the Cavaliers‘ head coach, John Beilein met with players for one last time in the team’s film room and explained his decision to them, according to Chris Fedor of, who says that Beilein showed “honesty, dignity, authenticity, and vulnerability” in his farewell on Wednesday.

Beilein insisted the club isn’t as far away as its dismal 14-40 record suggests, but told players that in his current state, he didn’t feel as if he could make a “positive impact” on them anymore as their coach, per Fedor.

“It took a real man to do that today,” Kevin Love said of Beilein’s comments. “Seeing him being vulnerable and treating us with respect and empathy, I thought it was super powerful. He came in and we all, I think the players, the coaches, himself, we all talked about some of the successes and failures that we had and talked about how it’s really, really hard to lose in this league.”

As Fedor details, Love suggested there was plenty of blame to go around for how the situation in Cleveland played out. Although Beilein struggled to adjust to the NBA, Love said the team’s performance this season isn’t just on “one man,” adding that losing so many games was hard on everyone.

“I think losing definitely drove … you saw me, I went a little crazy myself,” Love said. “After winning for so long and having such an elite program and you’re winning so many games, it’s a shock. So many things are different at this level, but even wins and losses, sometimes you try too hard not to become numb to it, but when they’re stacking up so fast and in the fashion that you lose and it’s the middle of January, you’ve played so many games, it’s not like you get that much happiness out of (the occasional win).”

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

  • Within that same story and in a tweet, Fedor clarifies that the Cavaliers don’t intend to conduct a head coaching search this spring, noting that J.B. Bickerstaff‘s ascension to the head coaching role was essentially built into his contract. That agreement was a “big reason” why Bickerstaff chose to come to Cleveland — his promotion just wasn’t expected to happen this soon.
  • In a separate story, Fedor takes a deep dive behind the scenes on how things went south for Beilein and the Cavs. The piece covers much of the same ground that The Athletic’s report on Wednesday did, but includes several new details and quotes. One player said Beilein treated Cavs players like “college kids” instead of “grown men.” Fedor also hears that many players were “shocked” by the timing of Beilein’s departure, thinking it would happen at season’s end.
  • In an Insider-only article for, Kevin Pelton explores the next steps in the Cavaliers’ rebuilding process. As Pelton observes, even among Cleveland’s most obvious long-term building blocks – such as Darius Garland and Collin Sexton – there’s no clear future All-Star, which puts added pressure on GM Koby Altman as he continues searching for top-tier talent.
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