John Beilein formally resigned as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday after multiple days of speculation that he wouldn’t be leading the team when play after the All-Star break commenced.
The Cavaliers said Beilein will be reassigned to a different role within the organization.
Cleveland is just 14-40, the second-worst record in the NBA. The Cavaliers reportedly reached a financial settlement with Beilein, who was in the first season of a five-year deal that was worth approximately $4 million per season.
“This was a very difficult decision for me, but I want to be clear — this was my decision to step down and I truly appreciate the understanding and support of the front office during this time,” Beilein said in a news release. “I find losing very challenging and this year has taken a much bigger toll on me than I expected. I grew concerned for the consequences this toll could potentially take on my own health and my family’s well-being down the road. I was not certain I could be at my best for the remainder of the season and in the future. That would not be fair to the players, coaches and support staff.”
The 67-year-old Beilein was a surprise hire by the Cavaliers and the season didn’t go well.
In addition to the lack of success, Beilein had to apologize to the team in January over his word choice in a film session.
He reportedly called his players “thugs” during a meeting at the team hotel in Detroit. Beilein said he had meant to say the team was “no longer playing like a bunch of slugs,” intending to compliment his squad for playing faster in recent games.
J.B. Bickerstaff will replace Beilein as coach. The Cavaliers resume play on Friday when they visit the Washington Wizards.
Bickerstaff, 40, has a 85-131 record as NBA head coach, spending most of the previous two seasons leading the Memphis Grizzlies as well as serving as coach of the Houston Rockets for most of the 2015-16 campaign.
“I also would not be doing this now, during the season, if J.B. Bickerstaff was not ready and capable to assume the head coaching role immediately and continue the rebuilding process that we have started,” Beilein said. “For 45 years and more than 1,300 games, my journey as a basketball coach has been a dream come true. I have never been afraid of a challenge and have given each one my all —sometimes to the detriment of my own well-being.”
Before moving to the NBA this season, Beilein went 571-325 at four Division I college programs, most recently Michigan.
Beilein was 278-150 in 12 seasons at Michigan — with two losses in the NCAA championship game — before accepting the job with the Cavs. He also won the 2007 NIT crown at West Virginia.
—Field Level Media