John Beilein is out as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers just 44 games into his tenure. J.B. Bickerstaff has been named the interim head coach and will lead his first practice tonight.
According to reporting from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Beilein and the team reached a financial settlement that will pay him a portion of the remaining money on his contract for this season.
Beilein, 67, left Michigan after an outstanding 12-year tenure. He took the Wolverines to nine NCAA Tournaments and made the finals twice, losing to Louisville in 2013 and Villanova in 2018. Beilein’s record at Michigan was 278-150 (65.0%).
However, he struggled to reach NBA players after more than four decades of coaching the college game. During a film session last month, Beilein referred to his players as “no longer playing as a bunch of thugs.”
After being informed of what he said by his staff, Beilein apologized and said he meant to use the word, “slugs” instead of “thugs.”
Whatever the case, Cleveland GM Koby Altman and owner Dan Gilbert made a colossal mistake by hiring a college basketball lifer in his late 60s to coach a young and struggling NBA team.
Beilein is only the third first-year NBA head coach in the last 30 years to coach a team’s opener and not finish the season. The other two were Randy Ayers (Philadelphia in 2003-04) and Jerry Tarkanian (San Antonio, 1992-93).
Will Beilein return to the college game or enjoy retirement? Only he knows, but there will certainly be interest.
Texas might be in the market for a new coach soon. Shaka Smart’s fifth team in Austin is unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns haven’t won an NCAA Tournament game yet on Smart’s watch.