Cavaliers reportedly frustrated with John Beilein; 'Guys drowned out his voice' according to one player
Their new coach's college style is wearing thin on Cleveland's NBA roster
The Cleveland Cavaliers jumped out to a surprising 4-5 start to open the 2019-20 season, but that initial momentum has faded as they have dropped 10 of their past 11 games. With their record now sitting at 5-15, frustration is bubbling in Cleveland, and according to Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic, most of it has been aimed squarely at new coach John Beilein.
Beilein made his name at the college level, coaching Michigan to two Final Fours after a successful stint at West Virginia, and has attempted to bring a similar style to the Cavaliers. That is where the problems are coming from, according to Charania and Vardon. Players are reportedly frustrated with Beilein's "nitpicking over basic fundamentals," a sensible critique given the mastery most NBA players have over them, and one that leads to overall frustrations with the way the offense has been run.
The most damning criticism of all, though, comes in what players have said off of the record. "Guys drowned out his voice, and when guys start searching for the next in line for help, I believe you've lost them," one Cavs player said, and unsurprisingly, the team has reportedly leaned on veteran assistant J.B. Bickerstaff while working through its frustrations with Beilein. Bickerstaff, formerly the coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets, is the son of Bernie Bickerstaff, a senior advisor to Cavs general manager Koby Altman.
Most college coaches struggle in their debut seasons in the NBA. Even Brad Stevens missed the playoffs in his first season with the Boston Celtics. That was due in part to the adjustment of coaching professionals, but the quality of his roster mattered as well. The Celtics were rebuilding during the 2013-14 season just as the Cavaliers are now. As currently constructed, Cleveland's roster is an ill-fitting mashup of veterans who once contended alongside LeBron James and younger players not ready to win at the NBA level. Losing was the expectation coming into the season.
But, as with any rebuilding team, the Cavaliers had hoped for progress. Building an identity and developing young players is an essential part of winning down the line, and so far, Cleveland has failed on both counts. Only 20 games into his first season in the NBA, Beilein may well have lost his team, and if he doesn't adjust to professional life quickly, he may never get it back.
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