Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and John Beilein believe he’s coached his final game for the franchise and are working out a financial settlement on the remainder of his contract, league sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Tuesday.
The Cavaliers plan to promote JB Bickerstaff to the full-time head coach role once the Beilein separation is finalized — perhaps as soon as Wednesday, league sources said.
Since he signed a five-year contract upon leaving the University of Michigan, Beilein, 67, has been increasingly unable to adjust to a dramatically different world in the NBA.
Friends and associates of Beilein have described him as unhappy — even miserable — with the move to the Cavaliers. The losing that comes with a rebuild, as well as several skirmishes in public and private with players, has played a part in the rapid deterioration, sources said.
Beilein apologized to his team after a January film session in which he referred to his players as “no longer playing as a bunch of thugs.”
Cleveland hired Bickerstaff with the expectation that he would eventually replace Beilein as part of a succession plan, but no one — not the organization nor Bickerstaff — imagined it would be inside one of season.
Cleveland is 14-40, the worst record in the Eastern Conference and behind only that of Golden State (12-43) for the worst in the NBA. Management expected the team to lose a significant number of games as it turned toward rebuilding its roster around a younger core, but Beilein has struggled to connect with NBA players and has had several missteps along the way that have shaken the players’ confidence in his leadership, league sources said.
General manager Koby Altman hired Beilein with the hope that his illustrious history as a teacher on the college level would infuse the Cavaliers with a strong program for player development and his storied offensive sets. However, opposing teams realized early that Beilein had scrapped his offense shortly into the season and retreated to more traditional NBA sets.
Beilein has also dealt with some personal and family turmoil, as his son Patrick was dismissed before the start of his first season as head coach at Niagara University. Personal issues were cited.
Beilein was sought after in the NBA, and he discussed job opportunities with Detroit and Atlanta in recent years.
Beilein has a career record of 571-325 as a college coach. He made the NCAA tournament in his last four seasons at Michigan, including a Final Four appearance in 2017-18.
Source: ESPN NBA