John Beilein, Cavaliers Considering Parting Ways

FEBRUARY 17, 12:55pm: Beilein is expected to speak to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert on Monday about potential options, according to The Athletic.

FEBRUARY 17, 7:20am: In a full story on the situation in Cleveland, ESPN’s Wojnarowski and Windhorst write that Beilein is expected to reach a decision within the next day or two. The Cavs’ head coach will likely speak with general manager Koby Altman about his future as soon as Monday, per the ESPN duo.

FEBRUARY 16, 10:03pm: John Beilein is not expected to remain the Cavaliers‘ head coach beyond the end of the 2019/20 season, according to a report from Shams Charania, Kelsey Russo, and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.

The Athletic’s report indicates that the terms and timing of Beilein’s departure aren’t known, but “momentum is building toward his exit.” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst suggest (via Twitter) that the Cavs and Beilein have discussed the possibility of him stepping down during the All-Star break. Though no decision has been reached, it’s possible he has coached his last game for the Cavs, Woj adds (via Twitter).

According to Charania, Russo, and Lloyd, several factors are contributing to Beilein’s tenure in Cleveland likely coming to an early end after he signed a five-year contract with the team last spring. Beilein, a longtime college coach who joined the Cavaliers after a successful run at the University of Michigan, hasn’t fully adjusted to or gotten comfortable with the NBA, people with knowledge of the situation tell The Athletic.

His son Patrick Beilein’s resignation from his head coaching job at Niagara in October has also taken a toll on the Cavs’ coach, per The Athletic. The younger Beilein stepped down for personal reasons before coaching his first game at Niagara.

On- and off-court issues for the Cavaliers have piled up during Beilein’s first year as well. The club sits dead last in the Eastern Conference with a 14-40 mark, and a report in December suggested that Beilein’s coaching style was alienating some players. About a month later, the 67-year-old head coach 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 said he had intended to say “slugs” and 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. Both players remain on the roster.

Since it sounds like Beilein’s departure – if and when it happens – will be mutually agreed upon, the two sides may have to work out a buyout agreement of some sort — it seems unlikely that the Cavs will pay him for the next four years.

If Beilein steps down during the season, associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff would likely be first in line to assume interim coaching duties, according to The Athletic. Charania, Russo, and Lloyd say that Bickerstaff would also be a strong candidate to become Cleveland’s next permanent head coach.

Bickerstaff has previously served as the head coach of the Rockets and Grizzlies. In both instances, he was an in-season replacement for a head coach who was fired, having succeeded Kevin McHale in Houston and David Fizdale in Memphis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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42 thoughts on “John Beilein, Cavaliers Considering Parting Ways

    • x%sure

      At least Bickerstaff will have some experience in taking over. The Rockets & Grizzlies don’t seem the worse off because he was there. I liked him in Memphis. Looking for silver linings here.

  1. amk3510

    Im stunned the guy who wanted to do dribble work in the NBA isn’t panning out.

  2. southbeachbully

    I’m so frustrated by my Knicks and Cavs. It’s bad enough they probably lead the NBA in most ex-coaches and GMs still on the payroll but the fact that these 2 teams are wasting away the limited amount of time they have these drafted players under control. Firing a coach in his first year of a multi-year contracts screams one of two things. You were horribly wrong in signing him in the first place or you have a quick trigger and not allowing the coaches “process” to work it’s way into a longer sample size in which the coach can be fairly evaluated.

      • rugrat907

        Given that it sounds like Beilein wants out as much as the Cavs want him out, there will be some negotiation on the rest of that contract.

    • joemoes

      Coaches don’t count against payroll. Who cares if the team is paying fired head coaches

      • southbeachbully


        Has nothing to do with the payroll or salary cap. It speaks to how consistently wrong they are at either hiring good candidates or too quick to pull the trigger on the coaches/GM term. They lack direction. They lack the ability to evaluate the people who they turn the franchise over to. Teams need stability and there is none with the Knicks and Cavs,

          • southbeachbully

            @Gary @x%sure

            Had one username for mlbtraderumors. Couldn’t remember my password and created this one for hoopsrumors. I’ve told ppl that I had both usernames. No issues.

      • southbeachbully


        Born in NYC. Moved to Cleveland 2 years before Lebron and took a liking to the city and the team. No big deal. Knicks reign supreme. Cavs are the only Cleveland team I root for tho.

  3. hiflew

    Gee, if only there was some precedent for college coaches not being successful in the NBA. Who knew?

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      It is rather amazing that NBA executives don’t see that this rarely works. Coaching college athletes is entirely different than coaching grown men.

      • afsooner02

        Their age has nothing to do with it.

        It’s being paid that does. (I mean large sums not what the boosters give the kids in college.)

      • I think it’s more about the talent spread in college vs. the NBA. In college, you can be a successful coach in one of two ways:

        1. Recruit NBA level talent that leaves in 1-2 years.
        2. Recruit lower level talent that sticks around and develops for 3-4 years.

        If you are successful via route 1 in college (Calipari), and move to the pros, you struggle because the talent differential between you and your opponents is a lot less than in college.

        If you are successful via route 2 in college (Beilein), you struggle because you can’t treat NBA players the same as a 6’4” power forward who hustles and plays with heart.

        There are also rule differences that make the college game biased against the more talented team.

        It is amazing, though, that NBA front offices haven’t figured this out.

        • jkoms57

          The rule difference is the main thing.

          Basically a totally different game when you knock 11 seconds off the shot clock.

    • Drew22

      Brad Stevens and Billy Donovan have done well for themselves. It clearly isn’t simply the move from college to NBA. Most of the coaches hired from the collegiate ranks have gone to NBA teams that were terrible when they were hired. Who would have possibly coached the Cavs this year to be any good?

      • hiflew

        They wouldn’t have had to necessarily be any better on the court, but a different hire could have easily been better in the locker room and with the media. Beilein’s quick downfall is not a product of his coaching or his record. He is going to be gone because he lost the respect of his players.

    • All American Johnsonville Dogs

      Billy Donovan seems to be doing just fine. Brad Stevens ain’t doing too bad in Boston.

      College coaches can be successful

      • Jason Lancaster

        Eh. Billy Donovan inherited an awesome team, and Coach them to a series loss when they after they were up 3-1. He then rode Russell Westbrook and Paul George to a good season, but it ended in disappointment. No one thought that team over-achieved.

        This year might be Donovan’s best job, but he’s also got Chris Paul on the team. Chris Paul is basically a coach, and injuries aside, I think every team Paul has been on has played well. I hesitate to give Donovan credit for that.

        Basically, the body of evidence for Donovan is weak. He may very well be a good coach, but we haven’t seen any evidence of that.

        As for Stevens, he’s clearly great. But he came in as an X’s and O’s coach, and he definitely didn’t overachieve last season.

        In my opinion, the last great college coach was Larry Brown. And even he wasn’t that great.

        • x%sure

          Agree on Donovan, the Thunder was not in bad shape and they have a “qb” to organize around. It might be Paul’s optimal role.

      • hiflew

        Both of them inherited already good teams. Plus, they wee both young enough to adapt to the modern pro player. 67 year old college coaches are not exactly known for their adaptability.

  4. diller1340

    This has to go down as one of the worst decisions ever by Beilein. He had such a cushy job and forever job security at Michigan and most people thought it was a questionable move from the start.

    • jkoms57

      He landed a ton of money and fulfilled his dream.

      Sounds like he made the right choice regardless of other intangibles

  5. harden-westbrook-mvps

    Not to be outdone by the Browns with all the revolving door coaches.

  6. Jason Lancaster

    LOL. I knew it was probably going to blow up, but I figured they’d try for at least 18 months.

    Next time, hire a former NBA journeyman player with a few years experience as an assistant. They might not be the best, but they’ll at least be average.

  7. Skip, Tampa

    Cavs, Bulls, Knicks aka Miller were all very bad hires for teams and fans. Especially when 3 high quality coaches got passed on. Ones in Italy, one on the Clippers and one is being passed over for an exStar on the Spurs.
    Toxic tire fires, stay away in nion lights.
    Go Figure.

  8. jump shot

    You know Bickerstaff took this asst coaching job because he knew this day would come. Probably didn’t expect it by All-Star break of Year 1, but still knew it’d come sooner than later.

  9. Theone23

    Was a poor hire to begin with. Another sub-par decision made by a sub-par franchise. Not surprised. However, would be sad to see John go out like this in the first year of a 5 year contract. I know things have been tough, John, but don’t be a quitter!! Either make the Cavs fire you, or stick it out. Also, I don’t think things could get any worse for Belein and the Cavs under his leadership. Can only get better from here.

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