Johnny Davis

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
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Report: John Beilein considering resigning as Cavaliers coach

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The Cavaliers took a chance hiring an old John Beilein.

It’s not working.

The slugs-thugs mix-up was only emblematic of a larger problem: Beilein has failed to connect with his players. Many in Cleveland seem miserable.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Shams Charania, Kelsey Russo and Jason Lloyd of The Athletic:

Cavaliers coach John Beilein is not expected to remain as head coach beyond the end of the season, league and team sources have told The Athletic. The terms of the separation, and the exact timing of it, are not yet known, but momentum is building toward his exit.

Several factors have come into play around the Cavaliers and Beilein in regard to his job position leading to the potential end of his tenure before the end of the five-year contract he signed in May — including the team’s on- and off-court struggles and the personal toll his son Patrick Beilein’s resignation at Niagara in October has taken on him — league sources said.

If Beilein doesn’t resign during the season, the Cavs might want to move on in the offseason. He’s just not getting results.

One way or another, Beilein now appears likely to join the list of NBA coaches who lasted one season or less in their first non-interim head-coaching job since the NBA-ABA merger:

Season Coach Team W L
2019 Igor Kokoskov PHO 19 63
2014 Jason Kidd BRK 44 38
2013 Mike Dunlap CHA 21 61
2011 Keith Smart GSW 36 46
2009 Michael Curry DET 39 43
2008 Sam Vincent CHA 32 50
2004 Randy Ayers PHI 21 31
2004 Kevin O’Neill TOR 33 49
2001 Leonard Hamilton WAS 19 63
2000 Gar Heard WAS 14 30
1999 Mike D’Antoni DEN 14 36
1998 Bill Hanzlik DEN 11 71
1997 Johnny Davis PHI 22 60
1996 Brendan Malone TOR 21 61
1994 Quinn Buckner DAL 13 69
1993 Jerry Tarkanian SAS 9 11
1988 John Wetzel PHO 28 54
1984 Morris McHone SAS 11 20
1981 Bill Musselman CLE 25 46
1980 Stan Albeck CLE 37 45
1980 Jack McKinney LAL 10 4
1978 Bob Hopkins SEA 5 17
1977 Tates Locke BUF 16 30

The last coach who didn’t finish first NBA season: Randy Ayers, whom the 76ers fired in 2004.

Assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff – who previously coached the Grizzlies and interviewed for the Cleveland head-coaching job before Beilein got it – would be the favorite to take over. The Cavs aren’t winning significantly this season, but it’d be helpful to instill a better culture around Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Kevin Porter.

Beilein has proven himself as an elite college coach. If the 67-year-old wants to continue coaching, he could certainly land a top job on that level.

Igor Kokoskov joins unfortunate ranks of head coaches fired after first NBA season

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Igor Kokoskov worked 18 years as an NBA assistant coach. The Serbia native worked tirelessly to convince teams he was more than just a mentor for European players. Finally, the Suns hired him as their head coach.

“It’s a dream job,” Kokoskov beamed. “And it’s a special day for me.”

Less than a year later, Phoenix fired him.

What a tough business.

The Suns gave Kokoskov a roster ill-equipped to win. They were comically thin at point guard. They had one of the NBA’s least-experienced teams. Even rising star Devin Booker still has significant flaws that inhibit his ability to win. Veterans like Trevor Ariza and Tyson Chandler appeared apathetic in Phoenix.

And now Kokoskov will pay the price for the Suns’ 19-win season.

His time as an NBA head coach is over already, and he might not get another opportunity. Kokoskov is the first coach to get fired after his first season as an NBA head coach since Mike Dunlap with Charlotte in 2013.

Here’s every coach to get fired after only one season, or less, of his first head-coaching job since the NBA-ABA merger. Interim seasons count only if the coach was retained the following year.

Season Tm Coach W L Future jobs
2018-19 PHO Igor Kokoskov 19 63
2012-13 CHA Mike Dunlap 21 61
2010-11 GSW Keith Smart 36 46 SAC
2008-09 DET Michael Curry 39 43
2007-08 CHA Sam Vincent 32 50
2003-04 PHI Randy Ayers 21 31
2003-04 TOR Kevin O’Neill 33 49
2000-01 WAS Leonard Hamilton 19 63
1999-00 WAS Gar Heard 14 30
1999 DEN Mike D’Antoni 14 36 PHO, NYK, LAL, HOU
1997-98 DEN Bill Hanzlik 11 71
1996-97 PHI Johnny Davis 22 60 ORL
1995-96 TOR Brendan Malone 21 61
1993-94 DAL Quinn Buckner 13 69
1992-93 SAS Jerry Tarkanian 9 11
1987-88 PHO John Wetzel 28 54
1983-84 SAS Morris McHone 11 20
1980-81 CLE Bill Musselman 25 46 MIN
1979-80 LAL Jack McKinney 10 4 IND, KCK
1977-78 SEA Bob Hopkins 5 17
1976-77 BUF Tates Locke 16 30

Of the 21 coaches fired in or following their first season as an NBA head coach, only five – Keith Smart, Mike D’Antoni, Johnny Davis, Bill Musselman and Jack McKinney – got another head-coaching job. Kokoskov faces long odds.

At least he got to finish the season. Phoenix had a late 5-2 stretch that included wins over the Bucks and Warriors. That could be a selling point for Kokoskov.

Randy Ayers (2003-04 76ers), Gar Heard (1999-00 Wizards), Jerry Tarkanian (1992-93 Spurs), Morris McHone (1983-84 Spurs), Bill Musselman (1980-81 Cavaliers), Bob Hopkins (1977-78 Seattle SuperSonics) and Tates Locke (1976-77 Buffalo Braves) all got fired during their first seasons as NBA head coaches. Jack McKinney (1979-80 Lakers) lost his job due to a bicycle crash during the season, and Los Angeles officially fired him after the season to keep Paul Westhead, who guided the team to a title in McKinney’s absence.

The Suns weren’t necessarily wrong to fire Kokoskov. Under his watch, they were sloppy and undisciplined and had chemistry problems – areas where the head coach usually gets credit or blame. General manager James Jones deserves a chance to hire his own coach.

Kokoskov might be a good coach. Even if he’s not, he could grow into one.

But he didn’t do enough to secure his job, as tall as that task might have been.

The above list is filled with coaches who had awful records. McKinney is the only one with a winning record, and his situation was complicated by the bike crash. Michael Curry (2008-09 Pistons) is only first-time head coach to take his team to the playoffs and still get fired since the merger, but Detroit had a losing record and got swept in the first round.

In many ways, it’s unfortunate Kokoskov didn’t get a better chance to prove himself. His job security took a major hit when the Suns fired the general manager, Ryan McDonough, who hired Kokoskov before the coach’s first season even began. Kokoskov survived rumors of a potential firing in February, but that was clearly only a stay of execution.

The Suns’ problems go way above the head coach, and Kokoskov’s experience in Phoenix could dissuade potential candidates from replacing him.

But there are only 30 NBA head-coaching jobs. Except for the most-coveted candidates, many coaches would rush to take this job.

As precarious as it can be.