Cavs, John Beilein expected to complete separation Wednesday

Associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff set to take over for Beilein

Daryl Ruiter
February 18, 2020 - 7:24 pm

CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Cavaliers are poised to make an in-season coaching change for the second straight year league sources confirmed to 92.3 The Fan.

Head coach John Beilein and the team are expected to finalize their separation on Wednesday paving the way for associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to take over for Beilein as the team returns from the All-Star break.

Tyronn Lue was fired six games into the 2018-19 season and Larry Drew coached the remainder of the campaign before the most recent coaching search led owner Dan Gilbert to Beilein.

The 67-year-old coach failed to connect with veterans and young players in what was a tumultuous six months that saw players complain privately about his coaching style.

Beilein has had to clarify comments multiple times in the media, including most recently about halftime adjustments. He also had a Freudian slip during a film session when he meant to say his players were playing like slugs but said thugs instead, prompting the coach to issue an apology. 

The Cavs hired Beilein with the hope he could help develop their young core of players, but the team has shown little consistent progress en route to the second-worst record in the NBA at 14-40, the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

General manager Koby Altman surprised many by acquiring two-time All-Star center Andre Drummond from the Pistons in exchange for a pair of expiring contracts and a 2023 second-round pick. Altman’s most valuable chip – forward Tristan Thompson – remained past the trade deadline after teams failed to meet the asking price of at least a first-round pick.

The move was meant to send a positive message to the locker room about the direction of the team but in Drummond’s debut the Cavs suffered their worst home loss in franchise history – a 41-point pounding courtesy of the Clippers.

They ended a 12-game home losing streak, a 127-105 win over the Hawks, before the All-Star break, which is expected to be Beilein’s final game with Cleveland.

Beilein signed a five-year deal to leave Michigan, where he spent 12 years leading the Wolverines to 428 victories, nine NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of Final Fours.

Bickerstaff, who took over as an interim coach in Houston and Memphis, will make his debut in charge of the Cavs when the season resumes Friday night in Washington against the Wizards.

The 40-year old Bickerstaff went 37-34 in Houston and led the Rockets to the playoffs in 2016. He was 48-97 over two seasons in Memphis.

He’ll be Gilbert’s sixth coach in seven years.

92.3 The Fan’s James Rapien contributed to this report.