John Beilein

And-Ones: Mannion, Beilein, WNBA, Pitino

Arizona point guard Nico Mannion, one of the top college players in the country, has not made a decision on whether or not his first season as a Wildcat will be his last, despite reports to the contrary, per Sam Vecenie of The Athletic (Twitter link).

“He will make that decision after the season,” the 19-year-old’s father Pace Mannion told Vecenie on March 8. With the NCAA season officially canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that determination may be coming up sooner than the Mannion family was anticipating.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • After resigning as Cavaliers head coach last month, John Beilein was hired as an analyst for the Big Ten Network studio team ahead of the anticipated start of the Big Ten Conference Tournament and March Madness, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. With the NCAA season canceled, Beilein may not have much to analyze for a while. Though Beilein is the winningest coach in Michigan basketball history, he struggled in the NBA, coaching the Cavaliers to a 14-40 record during 2019/20.
  • Rick Pitino will return to college coaching at Iona College, per Forbes’ Adam Zagoria.“My passion in basketball started in New York and will end there at Iona College,” Pitino said. Pitino has been coaching Greek EuroLeague club Panathinaikos since 2018. He last coached in the NCAA for the University of Louisville from 2001-2017.
  • WNBA executive director Terri Jackson spoke with Mark Medina of USA Today about the coronavirus and president Donald Trump’s travel ban precluding foreign nationals from traveling to the US from most European countries. Several WNBA players spend their offseasons overseas to supplement their earnings with more lucrative paydays from the international leagues. “Understanding [President Trump’s European] travel ban and understanding what came out of the White House is tough to grapple with,” Jackson told Medina.

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 Cleveland.com, 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 Cleveland.com 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 ESPN.com, 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.

John Beilein Resigns As Cavaliers Coach

After days of rumors that he was on the way out, John Beilein has officially resigned as coach of the Cavaliers, the team announced in a press release. Beilein will remain with the team and will be assigned to a different role.

“Over these last nine months, I have given my all to this organization, but after much reflection, I have decided that it is best that I step back and resign from my position as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and assist the organization in a different capacity,” Beilein said. “I am very grateful to (owner) Dan Gilbert, (general manager) Koby Altman and the entire Cavaliers organization for the opportunity they have provided me.”

Beilein, 67, had a rocky road throughout his first NBA season after four decades of success in the college ranks. He posted a 14-40 record, but the losing was expected with a rebuilding team. It was Beilein’s coaching style that reportedly alienated many of his players, and he often seemed out of touch with the NBA game.

Beilein was second-guessing his decision to leave Michigan as far back as the preseason, according to a report from The Athletic this morning. He found that his players didn’t respond well to lengthy practices and film sessions, and he wasn’t used to the idea of load management to help veterans get through an 82-game season.

“This was a very difficult decision for me,” Beilein added in the press release, “but I want to be clear – this was my decision to step down and I truly appreciate the understanding and support of the front office during this time. I find losing very challenging and this year has taken a much bigger toll on me than I expected. I grew concerned for the consequences this toll could potentially take on my own health and my family’s well-being down the road. I was not certain I could be at my best for the remainder of the season and in the future. That would not be fair to the players, coaches and support staff.”

Beilein’s new role and how long he will remain there haven’t been determined, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Sources expect Beilein to be heavily involved with the draft because of his connections to the college game.

Beilein spent 12 years at Michigan, leading the team to nine NCAA Tournament appearances and two Final Fours. He compiled 829 total college wins with 20 postseason appearances. Those credentials convinced the Cavaliers to gamble on him despite a lack of NBA experience, giving him a five-year contract in May.

“John Beilein is one of the more accomplished basketball coaches in the history of our game and while it’s unexpected, we understand and respect his decision to step down as head coach of the Cavaliers,” Altman said. “I was excited about the development of our young players, who have all shown growth and maturity under Coach Beilein. We are thankful for the time he spent as head coach with the Cavaliers and are looking forward to his continued contribution. The NBA is a unique business that sometimes requires aggressive risk-taking on important long-term decisions to move a franchise forward and ultimately compete for championships. I would like to thank the incredible fans of the Cavaliers for their support in both good and challenging times. Building a strong culture will continue to be the top priority here at the Cavaliers.”

As expected, assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff will be promoted to replace Beilein. He has previous experience as a head coach with the Rockets and Grizzlies, compiling an 85-131 record. Every assistant coach is likely to be promoted, according to Fedor, which means Lindsay Gottlieb figures to move to the front of the bench (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

More Details On Cavaliers/John Beilein Split

John Beilein‘s stint as Cavaliers head coach has come to an abrupt end halfway through his first season in Cleveland, and there were warning signs even before the regular season began that things could be headed in this direction, according to a new report from Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd, and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

The Athletic’s trio suggests that players began to tune out Beilein during training camp, and there were already signals at that point that the new head coach was unhappy in Cleveland. After a pair of preseason blowout losses to the Celtics, league sources were saying that Beilein was second-guessing his decision to leave college for the pros, per The Athletic.

Beilein’s tone toward players was said to be an issue throughout the season, as he allegedly nitpicked fundamentals and displayed an inability to adapt to the NBA’s offensive and defensive structures, according to Charania, Lloyd, and Vardon.

“He was a dictator — not a coach suited for today’s NBA,” one source told The Athletic.

While players were immediately turned off by Beilein’s style, the longtime college coach was “stunned” by the culture in the NBA, according to The Athletic. He was surprised by players’ “revulsion” to long film sessions and practices, and wasn’t accustomed to things like load management – such as Kevin Love sitting out half of back-to-back sets – or trades, which he didn’t have to deal with in college. The Athletic’s report indicates Beilein had a hard time adjusting on offense after the Cavs sent Jordan Clarkson to Utah in December.

The Athletic’s report paints a picture of a marriage between team and coach that was doomed from the start. Here are a few more of the most notable details from the story:

  • Recently-acquired center Andre Drummond didn’t take to Beilein at all upon joining the Cavs earlier this month. One source told The Athletic that Drummond said the situation in Cleveland was worse than the one he’d come from in Detroit. The veteran center reportedly indicated he’d walk in free agency if Beilein was still the Cavs’ coach, Lloyd said in a radio appearance (Twitter link via Keith Britton of 92.3 The Fan).
  • After Beilein said in a January film session that his team had been playing like “thugs,” he apologized, claiming that he had meant to say “slugs.” But several players never really bought that explanation, per The Athletic. “There was no coming back from that,” said one player, who suggested the excuse was an insult to the players’ intelligence. After that incident, a handful of players began blasting songs that prominently featured the word “thug” when Beilein was within earshot, sources told Charania, Lloyd, and Vardon.
  • The Athletic trio suggests that team owner Dan Gilbert may have had a hand in steering the head coaching search toward Beilein, despite his denials that it was his decision. One source told The Athletic that GM Koby Altman and his front office were at least more on board with Beilein than the previous group – led by David Griffin – was with the David Blatt hire in 2014.

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.

J.B. Bickerstaff Expected To Become New Cavaliers Head Coach

John Beilein is not expected to be the coach of the Cavaliers for much longer. According to Shams Charania and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, resolution of the situation is expected to come on Wednesday.

Sources tell the publication that Beilein is expected to walk away from the remainder of his five-year contract, which is worth approximately $4-5MM per season. The final year of that deal is a team option, however.

J.B. Bickerstaff is expected to get the promotion to head coach. Bickerstaff’s father and former long-time NBA coach, Bernie Bickerstaff, is a senior advisor with the franchise.

The younger Bickerstaff is in his first season as an associate head coach in Cleveland. He led the Grizzlies for two seasons previously, taking on the head coaching role first as an interim head coach during the 2017/18 season before becoming the official leader in 2018/19.

In addition to his head coaching experience, Bickerstaff spent five seasons on Houston’s bench and served as an interim head coach briefly for the Rockets. He began his coaching career at the age of 24 as an assistant on his father’s Bobcats expansion team.

Beilein, who is 67 years old, left Michigan to be the coach of the Cavaliers last summer. Sources tell Charania and Lloyd that several factors played a part in him stepping down, including the fact that the details surrounding his son’s resignation at Niagara University have taken a toll on him.

Cavs Notes: Beilein, Drew, Drummond, Cap Room

With multiple members of the Cavaliers‘ front office away on vacations over the All-Star break, the plan is for them to reconvene in Cleveland on Wednesday, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. If there’s still no resolution by that point on John Beilein‘s status for the rest of the season, that resolution will likely come shortly thereafter. The Cavs are scheduled to resume play on Friday in Washington.

As we wait to see what Beilein and the Cavs decide, let’s round up a few other items out of Cleveland…

  • Beilein apparently isn’t the first Cavaliers head coach to consider an in-season departure in recent years. On an episode of the Tampering podcast, Joe Vardon of The Athletic said that interim head coach Larry Drew wanted to step down at the All-Star break in 2018/19, but was talked out of it by his agent (hat tip to RealGM). That’s not a particularly shocking revelation, considering Drew said in January 2019, “I don’t know if I ever want to be a head coach again after this year.”
  • Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, second-year Cavs guard Collin Sexton expressed enthusiasm about teaming up with newly-acquired center Andre Drummond. “It’s amazing, just knowing that we have a big man down there who’s going to block shots, run the floor and dunk,” Sexton said. “It’s amazing, and it’ll allow us on defense to be a lot more aggressive and be into the ball because we know that we have a big guy back there who can block shots.”
  • Thanks to the NBA’s updated 2020/21 cap projection and a flurry of deadline trades, there will be far less league-wide cap room available this summer than initially expected, writes Danny Leroux of The Athletic. Leroux points to the Grizzlies and Cavaliers as two teams that significantly reduced their 2020 spending power as a result of in-season deals. Before acquiring Dante Exum and Drummond, Cleveland was on track to have nearly $36MM in space. Now, assuming Drummond doesn’t walk in free agency, the team projects to be over the cap.

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.

Central Notes: Beilein, Sexton, Mykhailiuk, Antetokounmpos

The Cavaliers seem distracted by the trade deadline as they rack up embarrassing losses, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The latest came last night as the Warriors broke a 10-game road losing streak with a 19-point blowout in Cleveland.

“Every loss is hitting me really hard and hitting us … I know it’s hitting me hard, I can’t answer for other people,” coach John Beilein said. “It’s just trying to find solutions and trying to find a better way to get our guys to play harder and smarter, which will lead to wins. But there’s some things that just happen because we’re young and some things happen because of persistence in our effort and some things happen because we’re just missing some pieces in the roster here and there.”

The team may have a different attitude and a different look once the deadline passes Thursday afternoon. Tristan Thompson, Brandon Knight, John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova are all veterans on expiring contracts who may be sent elsewhere. Kevin Love, the team’s highest-paid player, has displayed frustration throughout the season and is also a candidate to be moved.

One question Beilein couldn’t answer last night is whether he still has the support of the players as the Cavaliers have fallen to the bottom of the Eastern Conference at 13-37.

“I think that our guys have to measure themselves,” he said. “Are they bought in to playing winning basketball? I don’t think it has anything to do with a particular coach or coaches, whatever, they’ve just got to go and play hard.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton was “shocked” to be passed over for the Rising Stars Challenge, Fedor adds in a separate story. “I knew I deserved to be there,” said Sexton, who also wasn’t invited to the game last year. “I knew the hard work every day, coming here and playing the game. I knew I deserved to be out there, but I took the good with it. Hey, just continue to build. Can’t be too mad because it is what it is.”
  • The Pistons are benefiting from an under-the-radar trade last February that brought in Svi Mykhailiuk from the Lakers in exchange for Reggie Bullock, notes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. “He’s on track to be one of our core pieces as far as his shooting ability, his ability to make plays off the dribble,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s right with Luke (Kennard) as far as being able to put the ball on the floor, run pick and rolls. And the kid’s a sponge – you can get on him, you can coach him, you can teach him.”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo were thrilled to be in the starting lineup together on Friday, relays Eric Woodyard of ESPN. It marked the first start of Thanasis’ NBA career, and Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer made the decision because it was Greek Night in Milwaukee.

Central Notes: Sampson, Turner, Giannis, Beilein

The Pacers have been able to weather a series of injuries because of surprising contributions from players such as JaKarr Sampson, writes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Now with his fifth NBA team, Sampson didn’t create much fanfare when he signed with Indiana in August. He’s averaging just 4.9 points per game, but his other contributions have helped make up for the loss of Thaddeus Young in free agency.

“You can’t look at a stat sheet for guys like him,” teammate Myles Turner said of Sampson. “He brings so much more to the game. Intensity. We feed off his energy.”

Sampson is suddenly getting an opportunity after missing 22 games with a back injury. He played 20 minutes Friday night after finding out 10 minutes before the game that he was starting because Domantas Sabonis had to sit out with a sore knee.

“I know I’m able to play this game at the highest level,” Sampson said. “I knew what I was walking into when I came to this team. They have two great players at the 4 and 5 (Sabonis and Turner).”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers are turning down trade requests for Turner, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Indiana has a lot of money invested in Turner and Sabonis, but wants to see how the team responds once Victor Oladipo returns from injury before considering a move.
  • The Bucks don’t seemed bothered by continued speculation about Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s future, tweets Eric Woodyard of ESPN. “I think the team’s been incredibly focused, he’s been incredibly focused just on each day, getting better, competing with his group and being respectful of what we’re doing now,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.
  • Cavaliers players are eager to move past the latest John Beilein controversy, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. In comments that he later apologized for, the coach caused a stir this week when he said his team was “no longer playing like a bunch of thugs” when he meant to say “slugs.” “He says it all the time, so it’s all good,” Collin Sexton said. “He calls us slugs, because we slow. But it’s good. We knew what he meant, just blown out of proportion.”