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Turbulence in Cleveland: Cavs Players Unhappy with John Beilein's Coaching


The Cleveland Cavaliers currently sit at 5-15 after 20 games this season, good for the third-lowest record in the Eastern Conference. Under first-year head coach John Beilein and a young core including rookie Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, and veteran Kevin Love, the Cavs have been blown out by more than 18 points in five of their last nine games, including a 33-point blowout by the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night. After a hot start, things have cooled down for the Cavs, and signs are pointing to Beilein as a reason why.

In an article published by Joe Vardon and Shams Charania, reports are flying in about the Cavaliers, repeatedly stating that players are unhappy with Beilein's style of coaching, and are even looking to assistant J.B. Bickerstaff for guidance rather than Beilein. Quotes are coming from players saying that he's lost the locker room and players are drowning out his voice, and an unnamed player stated "Our assistants are definitely more prepared for the NBA".

Beilein is in his first season as an NBA Head Coach after a very successful stint at the University of Michigan, where he led the Wolverines to multiple successful March Madness runs, including two championship game appearances. Because the Cavs are rebuilding and have a package of young players on their roster, it makes sense to bring in a college coach that works with primarily younger guys, especially someone with a resume like Beilein's. However, his college-style coaching isn't translating over to the NBA quite yet. They have the fourth-worst net rating in the league with a -8.7 rating, and are putting up the third-fewest points per game, averaging just 104.2 PPG. They're often over-matched on defense, especially with younger, smaller players like Sexton and Garland receiving heavy minutes.

However, not all hope is lost in Cleveland. The Cavs are about to open up a lot of cap space this summer (even with a weak free agency class) with veterans like Tristan Thompson and Brandon Knight slated to enter free agency, which could open up space for them to sign big names in the 2021 free agency period. Thompson is actually having one of the best seasons of his career, Kevin Love's trade stock is rising because of his health and play, and they could probably get some nice assets back for players like Love and Jordan Clarkson if they are willing to sell at the trade deadline. As far as the younger players go, Garland has shown some promise as a long-term point guard, Sexton is leading the team in scoring with 18 PPG, Cedi Osman has inserted himself as a staple in Cleveland's future, and Kevin Porter Jr. has already had some impressive moments and games in his brief stint with the Cavaliers.

Leading back to Beilein, his situation looks murky, but it may be blown out of proportion. Because there were no direct players mentioned in the article, there's no way to know who doesn't think highly of Beilein, but Cleveland has committed a lot of money and time for him to be the future coach of this team. If it is the veterans and older players who are unhappy with him, the Cavs should stick with Beilein for the future simply because a lot of these veterans will likely be gone next season. However, if the younger players are upset with Beilein, then a quicker change might be necessary, as they can't afford to upset the players that they are trying to develop. Either way, Cleveland doesn't look like they'll be playing in the postseason any time soon, so hopefully the squad can brush this report aside, come together and play some competitive basketball, and hope for a top pick in the draft next Spring.

All stats and references come from Basketball Reference or theathletic.com, unless stated otherwise.

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