John Beilein to exit as Cavaliers coach Wednesday, be replaced by JB Bickerstaff, per report

John Beilein’s first season coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers went as poorly as it possibly could. After reports surfaced that the Cavaliers would be unlikely to bring him back next season, Beilein has agreed to part ways with the team, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

With a dismal 14-40 record, the Cavs are currently in the basement of the Eastern Conference, and several veterans — 2016 champions Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson among them — have reportedly tried to orchestrate midseason exits. 

Beilein and the team discussed the coach potentially stepping down during the NBA All-Star break, and those talks continued through Tuesday when a final decision was made. Beilein, who joined the Cavs in May of 2019 on a five-year deal worth approximately over $4 million per season, reached a financial settlement with the team that will pay him a portion of this season’s salary on his way out, according to Wojnarowski. 

The Cavs will reportedly promote associate head coach JB Bickerstaff to the head-coaching position, according to multiple reports, which would make Bickerstaff the sixth coach Cleveland has had over the past seven seasons.

A number of factors have reportedly led to Beilein’s miserable season in Cleveland. He helmed one of the best programs in college basketball at Michigan, so losing at this level is obviously a stark contrast for the coach. His son, Patrick, also resigned from his position as head coach at Niagra for what has been called “personal reasons,” and that has reportedly weighed on the elder Beilein as well. 

Adding to the tension was controversy earlier this season in which Beilein accidentally called his players “thugs” during a film session. He explained that he meant to say “slugs,” and he apologized to the team, but the damage was done. Such an incident likely left a lasting impact on the locker room.

Cleveland cycles through coaches faster than any other team in the NBA. Beilein is the team’s sixth since LeBron James left in free agency for the first time in 2010. No Cavs coach has lasted more than three full seasons since then, including Tyronn Lue, who won a championship for them in 2016.

Team owner Dan Gilbert is just as hard to please when it comes to general managers. Koby Altman is the first one he has ever granted a contract extension. 

Beilein was hired ostensibly to help develop an extremely young Cleveland roster, but former lottery picks Collin Sexton and Darius Garland have been largely underwhelming together this season. Whether that duo can work together for the long haul remains to be seen, but it looks as though that determination will be made by a new head coach. 

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