While coaching the Cavaliers, John Beilein called his players “thugs.” He said it was a simple case of mispronouncing the word “slugs” while speaking too quickly.
But with Beilein resigning, a fuller picture is emerging.
a number of the players never really embraced his explanation. In fact, some of them thought it was an insult to their intelligence, one player told The Athletic.
“There was no coming back from that,” he said.
Instead, multiple players began playing songs that included the word “thug” whenever Beilein was within earshot, sources said: Bone Thugz-n-Harmony’s “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and Tupac’s “Thugz Mansion” among them. As the team boarded the bus a few days after the incident, one player was intentionally playing Trick Daddy’s “I’m a Thug” with Beilein a few feet away. Other players blasted songs with the word “thug” loudly during workouts in the facility. Players did this to make light of a very tough situation, according to one team source.
“The worst part to me was not owning that he said it,” one player told The Athletic.
If they didn’t sing the lyrics as:
- “It’s the Sluggish Ruggish Bone”
- “So right before I sleep, dear God, what I’m askin’ / Remember this face, save me a place, in slug’s mansion”
- “Baby, ‘cause I’m a slug”
…they did it wrong.
For what it’s worth, Beilein did own that he said “thugs.” He just claimed he meant to say “slugs.”
Want to question which word he intended to use? Suspicious about what in his mind led “thugs” to come out even if he meant to say “slugs”? That’s totally fair.
But either “slugs” or “thugs” was entirely plausible in that context. Nobody outside Beilein can know what he was thinking.
Cavaliers players just didn’t want to give benefit of the doubt to a coach they already loathed. I wouldn’t be surprised if some within the organization showed faux outrage about thugs-slugs just because they wanted Beilein gone.
The NBA has levels of pettiness Beilein never experienced in college. It can be jarring, and Beilein seemingly never got comfortable at this level. Put another way:
Slug passion got you tremblin’ like Death on the Row
When J.B. Bickerstaff takes over as the new coach in Cleveland today, he will inherit a big, slow frontcourt of Kevin Love and Andre Drummond that will make a combined $60 million next season.
Will he still have that frontcourt when training camp opens next fall?
We know the Cavaliers tried to trade Love at the deadline but the remaining three years, $91 million on his contract after this season made that difficult. Instead, Cleveland surprised the league when it added Drummond at the trade deadline.
Now comes a rumor from Greg Swartz at Bleacher Report where an anonymous former GM says he thinks once Drummond picks up the $28.8 million option on his contract — something expected around the league — the Cavs will try to trade him, too.
“I don’t think [Drummond and the Cavs] will last long,” one former NBA general manager said. “I could see them trading him to a team this summer if he agrees to pick up his option. They could also do a sign-and-trade if he agrees to a new long-term deal. I don’t think he’ll be in Cleveland for long.”
For the record, the Cavaliers deny that is the case. GM Koby Altman said as much.
“Absolutely, we consider him a potential long-term play,” Altman said. “Obviously, he has a player option that if he picks up, we think we’re in good shape in terms of our cap space. There’s no better money spent than on Andre Drummond if he picks up his option.”
There could be interest in Drummond as an expiring contract next season because teams are trying to clear up cap space for a deep summer of 2021 free agent class (particularly if Giannis Antetokounmpo does not sign the $254 million supermax contract the Bucks will offer this summer). There may be teams interested in the 26-year-old Drummond longer term — he is averaging 17.7 points and 15.8 rebounds a game as a traditional big — just not at anywhere near his current salary.
Expect a lot of Cavaliers trade rumors around the draft and into July as they try to add talent. Don’t be surprised if Drummond is in some of those rumors; the Cavaliers should explore everything.
Also, don’t be surprised if Love and Drummond are the starting 4/5 for the Cavaliers when the season tips off next October.
Initial reporting suggested John Beilein will walk away from the rest of his contract with the Cavaliers.
But apparently he’ll get a payout.
Beilein and the Cavaliers negotiated a financial settlement that will pay him a portion of the remaining money on his 2019-20 contract, league sources said. He left the University of Michigan and signed a five-year contract with Cleveland that included a team option for the final season, a deal that paid him more than $4 million a season, league sources said.
That doesn’t sound like a substantial settlement (relatively).
But Beilein had some leverage. Because he did so poorly, it seemed the Cavs might just fire him at the end of the season. While it appears to be his choice to walk away now, everyone seemed ready to move on soon enough.
There could have been more of a fired-or-quit standoff. But Beilein was so done, he left a lot of money on the table. That’s still the story, even if he’ll walk away with some.
Kevin Durant will not play an NBA game this season.
His jumper, however, looks to be in midseason form. Following All-Star Weekend, a video surfaced on Instagram of Durant working out at UCLA, and his shot remains a thing of beauty. His pull-up works, too.
KD's lab work 🧪
(via __devonte__/IG) pic.twitter.com/BbPOFz9soK
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 19, 2020
Okay Kevin Durant, we see you!🔥 pic.twitter.com/E6nn1WaSVZ
— NBA RETWEET (@RTNBA) February 19, 2020
There’s some debate around the league about just how good 31-year-old Durant will be when he returns.
When he left he was the best player on the planet, an unstoppable scorer who could defend LeBron James in the clutch of a game, KD was a two-time defending Finals MVP at the peak of his game. Suffering a torn Achilles means he’s not going to have the same level of explosiveness, but when you’re pushing 7-foot tall (in shoes), have a high release over your head, can hit from anywhere, and have a deadly fade away, does it matter if you lose half-a-step?