Cavaliers coach John Beilein left his players "stunned" after he said they were no longer playing like "a bunch of thugs" in a film session on Wednesday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowki reports.
Beilein reportedly did not know he used the phrase until Cleveland general manager Koby Altman reached out to him later that day. Once he was informed, Beilein started contacting his players individually to explain he meant to say "slugs" during the film session.
"I didn't realize that I had said the word 'thugs,' but my staff told me later I did and so I must have said it," Beilein said to ESPN. "I meant to say 'slugs,' as in slow moving. We weren't playing hard before, and now we were playing harder. I meant it as a compliment. That's what I was trying to say. I've already talked to eight of my players tonight, and they are telling me that they understand."
Altman is reportedly in the process of gathering more context on the film session after players were "increasingly disturbed" upon leaving the meeting.
Tensions have been high among the Cavaliers as of late, as Kevin Love recently had a reported emotional outburst at practice and has shown frustration during games. Beilein has also been "slow to connect" with the young Cavaliers squad, according to Wojnarowski. The team has struggled to find success this season and is currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak.
Beilein signed a five-year contract with the Cavaliers in May after he spent 12 years with the University of Michigan. Cleveland is 10-27 on the season.