Cavs, Beilein To Split; Bickerstaff To Take Over As Head Coach

Sam Amico

John Beilein and the Cavaliers are finalizing a deal that will end Beilein's tenure as coach after 54 games.

Beilein, 67, rarely seemed comfortable in his first NBA season after 41 years in the college game, and both he and the Cavaliers are simply working out the finances before Beilein departs.

The Cavs (14-40) return to practice Wednesday night. Associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been notified that he will move into Beilein's spot as head coach, sources said.

Beilein signed a five-year deal before the season, four of which were guaranteed at nearly $4 million annually. It is believed Beilein is willing to walk away from the final few years of his contract.

Cavs GM Koby Altman and Beilein discussed the idea of Beilein stepping aside just prior to the All-Star break, as the Cavs have clearly regressed with a bevy of blowout losses and 12 straight defeats at home before beating Atlanta last week.

Altman, Beilein and the players will gather to make Beilein's departure official by Wednesday afternoon.

"Cleveland ownership and management had been determined to see through a difficult start with him, but it's become increasingly apparent to the front office and Beilein that the partnership was headed to an inevitable split," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported, citing league sources.

Altman and assistant GM Mike Gansey were instrumental in bringing Beilein to the Cavs. Gansey played for Beilein at West Virginia when the Mountaineers upset Chris Paul and Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament in 2005, advancing to the Elite Eight.

Beilein has had a rough first NBA season, with reports of player unrest in December and an incident at a film session in early January in which he admittedly referred to the players as "thugs." Beilein said he misspoke.

"Friends and associates of Beilein have described him as unhappy -- even miserable -- with the move to the Cavaliers," Wojnarowski reported. "The losing that comes with a rebuild, as well as several skirmishes in public and private with players, has played a part in the rapid deterioration of tenure, sources said.”

On top of all that, the Cavs reportedly tried to trade Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson ahead of the Feb. 6 deadline, but were unable to move either player.

Instead, they made a deal for center Andre Drummond, the league's leading rebounder and another veteran for Beilein to try to mix in with young guards Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr.

Along the way, Beilein has struggled to connect with his players and the team has lost faith in his leadership, according to Wojnarowski.

Bickerstaff is the former head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and the son of Cavs senior adviser Bernie Bickerstaff. J.B. has said his father played a large role in his coming to Cleveland.

Bottom line: The Cavaliers visit Washington on Friday and J.B. Bickerstaff will be the head coach.