Cavaliers Part Ways With John Beilein, Promote J.B. Bickerstaff

The Cleveland Cavaliers and coach John Beilein are officially parting ways, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports. J.B. Bickerstaff will be promoted to the head coaching role and won’t receive an “interim” tag.

Beilein began talking to general manager Koby Altman about the possibility of stepping down from his position before the All-Star break began, sources tell Wojnarowski. He’ll have an opportunity to say goodbye to players and staff on Wednesday once the team returns from its All-Star break. He’ll end his brief tenure in Cleveland with a record of 14-40.

We heard earlier today that Beilein was expected to walk away from the remainder of his four-year contract, which he signed this past summer. The pact, which featured a fifth-year team option, would have paid him approximately $4-5M per season. Wojnarowski suggests the two sides reached a settlement that will pay Beilein some of the money remaining on his 2019/20 salary.

A longtime college coach, Beilein joined the Cavaliers after a successful run at the University of Michigan, but never fully adjusted to or got comfortable in the NBA, according to a report earlier this week. His son Patrick Beilein’s resignation from his head coaching job at Niagara in October reportedly took a toll on the Cavs’ coach. The younger Beilein stepped down for personal reasons before coaching his first game at Niagara.

On- and off-court issues for the Cavaliers piled up during Beilein’s first year. A report in December suggested that his coaching style was alienating some players. About a month later, the 67-year-old was at the center of a mini-controversy when he reportedly told his players they were no longer playing “like a bunch of thugs.” Beilein, who said he had intended to say “slugs,” apologized to the team.

On top of all that, the Cavaliers have struggled this season to balance developing their young prospects with keeping their veteran players happy. Kevin Love has publicly expressed his frustration with the situation in Cleveland multiple times this season, and both Love and Tristan Thompson reportedly wanted to be moved before the trade deadline.

Although management and ownership was committed to seeing things through with Beilein, the veteran coach was described as being unhappy in Cleveland, according to Wojnarowski. There had been rumblings for several days suggesting that his time as Cavs head coach would end sooner rather than later.

As for Bickerstaff, he’s in his first season as an associate head coach in Cleveland. He led the Grizzlies for two seasons previously, taking over for David Fizdale as an interim head coach during the 2017/18 season before becoming the club’s official leader in 2018/19.

In addition to his head coaching experience in Memphis, Bickerstaff spent five seasons on Houston’s bench and served as an interim head coach briefly for the Rockets after Kevin McHale was let go. He began his coaching career at the age of 24 as an assistant under his father, Bernie Bickerstaff, on the expansion Bobcats.

Wojnarowski writes that Bickerstaff was hired as part of an eventual succession plan for Beilein, so barring another unexpected turn of events, it sounds like he’ll hold the head coaching job beyond this season.

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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19 thoughts on “Cavaliers Part Ways With John Beilein, Promote J.B. Bickerstaff

  1. As bad as it is to be Knicks fan right now, I think it may be worse for the Cavs faithful.

    Dealing for Drummond without moving Thompson, a new HC every year it seems, and a max contract to a guy who doesn’t fit the rebuild timeline. Drafting non PG/PG’s each of the last two years, what is Altman and group doing with this team. Maybe they should have offered Bron the GM’s job while he was still in tow. Whiny Coach sinking baby, sure, but at least they won. Couldn’t do worse than Koby.

      • harden-westbrook-mvps

        It has been so long that no one even remembers Walt Frazier and his two championships anymore, except for Spike Lee of course.

        • I remember that. NYC remembers. And i still Remember also akeem&clyde’s, also if no one does.
          Winning is not all. Iverson has no rings. Stockton has no rings. Robert Horry has a lot of rings. If you prefer, Harden 0 rings, Westb 0 rings.
          And the Cleveland ring is a lot more important than the Miami’s one for lbj.

    • amk3510

      He is not a whiny baby if the way he did things lead to winning. Its funny how people say that yet the season he had a coach fired they won the title. Sounds like a good move to me. Notice how the Lakers are doing way better with a Lebron approved head coach too. But sure baby..

  2. x%sure

    The continuance of GM Altman is a bigger problem than the loss of Beilein, who did not seem to have great affect on the team or their style.

    However Dan Gilbert probably is the Beilein fan. Gilbert is more of a Michiganer and had the Cavs often wearing Piston-like dark blue unis.

    Cavs have to draft in the top 10 to keep their first. Next year is the year they have to do better!

  3. Buckman

    I dislike coaches who use “family” situations as a cover to quit when its clear that they are terrible coaches. This guy was a terrible pro coach and was in over his head. I wonder if he had stayed at Michigan would he have quit that job for family reasons?

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      He was absolutely terrible at his job, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have resigned for family reasons too. I’d think, if he was simply bad at his job, he’d just wait to be fired, and keep all the $$$. I really don’t see this as an elaborate cover.

    • The Mistake of Giving Eugene Melnyk a Liver Transplant

      His family was embarrassed that he was so bad at his job and therefore is part of why he quit.

  4. Skip, Tampa

    Sad thing is that the writing was on the wall for this to happen from jump.
    Should have just hired Bickerstaff to begin with.

  5. Reflect

    I can’t really grasp the connection between his son quitting a job and him also quitting a job. People keep repeating “his son’s resignation took a toll on him” but that doesn’t actually make any sense without context. It’s very easy to continue working somewhere even when someone else quits.

    • Luke Adams

      His son quit for “personal reasons.” We don’t know specifics, but it’s safe to assume those “personal reasons” are what have affected Beilein, not the resignation itself.

  6. Skip, Tampa

    Agree completely with the son having that big of an impact. Assuming it’s something pretty intense on a personal level.
    Wish them both all the best.

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