John Beilein was in his first season as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and before that season was even able to come to a conclusion, he is now parting ways with the team. This separation has been rumored for a few days, but now Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that the split up is going to happen, and Beilein will be saying his goodbyes before the second half of the season gets started. J.B. Bickerstaff will take over as the head coach.
Story filed to ESPN: After a brief and tumultuous tenure, John Beilein is leaving as Cleveland’s coach. Associate HC JB Bickerstaff will be elevated to head coach. Beilein’s expected to say goodbye to staff and players on Wednesday upon team’s return from All-Star Break.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 19, 2020
Wojnarowski has also reported that the plan in Cleveland was always for Bickerstaff to eventually take over for Beilein in Cleveland, but it obviously wasn’t planned to happen this early.
Beilein decided to take the leap of faith to the NBA after 27 years of being a head coach in college basketball, and having a very successful 12-year career at Michigan where he won 65 percent of his games and made it to the NCAA Championship game twice and six other trips to the tournament.
However, things never seemed to mesh in Cleveland. Early on, there were reports of the players not totally buying into Beilein because he was viewed as a college coach and things are much different in the NBA.
Then there was the controversy of him calling his team “thugs” and claiming that he meant to say they were playing like “slugs”. His son was also the coach at Niagara University but stepped down before the season due to “personal reasons” and that’s been something that has reportedly played a role in Beilein’s struggles.
He also wasn’t used to losing at the rate he was. As mentioned, he had a very strong winning percentage at Michigan and during his time as a college coach, he won 63.7 percent of his games. Going from that to having a 14-40 record at the All-Star Break is a stark contrast, and is not surprisingly difficult to deal with.
Elevating Bickerstaff feels like a safe move at this time. He doesn’t have a good record as an NBA head coach, but at least for a team that’s in this situation, he has experience as a coach at this level, which could play a crucial role in trying to dig Cleveland out of this rebuild. However, this continues a trend of Cleveland being a dumpster fire and being as unstable as any franchise across professional sports.
Top Photo: Tony Dejak/Associated Press