Cleveland Cavaliers 2019-20 preview: Meet the players and coaching staff

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A new NBA season has arrived, and the Cavaliers have a fresh batch of story lines as the season begins.

The Cavaliers hired former Michigan coach John Beilein in May, and drafted Darius Garland, Dylan Windler and Kevin Porter Jr., in June. With a new system in Cleveland and new faces, the Cavs will go through some growing periods.

Here is a preview of the Cavs’ coaching staff and roster, with descriptions and information on every member of the team.

The coaches

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics, October 15, 2019

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Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein yells to his team against the Boston Celtics in the first half. (Joshua Gunter, cleveland.com)

John Beilein

Years coaching in the NBA: Zero – This is Beilein’s first season coaching in the league. He spent the last 12 years as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines.

Before coming to Cleveland: Beilein has been a head coach throughout his career, and he began his Division I career at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. Beilein coached at Richmond for five seasons and at West Virginia for the same amount of time.

During his college career, Beilein went to 13 NCAA Tournaments, nine while at Michigan. Beilein helped lead the Wolverines to two NCAA championship games. In 2013, the Wolverines lost to Louisville. In 2018, they lost to Villanova.

Things to know: Beilein’s offense is a two-guard front without distinction between “point” and “shooting,” designed to create optimal space for each player. Collin Sexton and Darius Garland appear to have potential sharing the backcourt, and Garland seems to be the better ball handler/playmaker. While the roster boasts considerable guard talent, there’s limited frontcourt depth.

Big man Ante Zizic (plantar fasciitis) is out for about four weeks. John Henson has suffered groin and ankle injuries. After the Cavs’ preseason finale, Beilein spoke about the Cavs’ struggles. Two days after the preseason finale loss, Beilein spoke on how he and his coaching staff will continue to adapt. The Cavs are in the heart of a rebuilding process that will take time.

Career coaching record: 571-325 (.637)

Fun fact: While at West Virginia, Beilein coached Cavs assistant general manager Mike Gansey for two seasons. Gansey was the Mountaineers’ second-leading scorer during the 2005-06 season, averaging 16.8 points a game.

Cleveland Cavaliers introduce their draft picks, Darius Garland and Dylan Windler, June 21, 2019

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Cavaliers Associate Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff talks with the media, June 21, 2019, in Independence. (John Kuntz, cleveland.com)

J.B. Bickerstaff

Years coaching in the NBA: Bickerstaff has three years of head coaching experience, and 14 years as an assistant or associate head coach.

Before coming to Cleveland: Bickerstaff was hired as the associate head coach in May. He was Memphis’ head coach the past two seasons, and led the Houston Rockets for 71 games during the 2015-16 season after the firing of Kevin McHale. Bickerstaff has been an assistant in Charlotte, Minnesota and Houston.

Things to know: Bickerstaff has a reputation as a defensive expert, and the Cavs need to improve on that end. Last season, they were last in opponent field goal (two-point and three-point) percentages. Cleveland was also 18th in points allowed. Per Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders, Jordan Clarkson said after practice recently that Bickerstaff still has more of his defensive schemes to show during the regular season.

Career coaching record: 85-131 (.394)

Fun Fact: When Bickerstaff became head coach of the Grizzlies in 2018, he and his father Bernie became the first black father and son to be full-time NBA head coaches, per ESPN’s Marc Spears.

Antonio Lang

Years coaching in the NBA: Lang has spent five seasons as an assistant.

Before coming to Cleveland: The Cavs hired Lang as an assistant in June. During the past five years, Lang was in Utah. Lang has also been the head coach for Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins of Japan’s National Basketball League (NBL). He led the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2014.

Things to know: Lang will reportedly be in the second assistant chair with Cleveland. When Lang was brought on, Cavs general manager Koby Altman praised how Lang has experience with three playoff seasons in Salt Lake City.

Fun fact: Lang played six seasons in the NBA, including three with the Cavs. Lang played 115 games with Cleveland, and he averaged 2.6 points on 46.1% shooting, with 1.5 rebounds a game.

Cavaliers assistant coach Dan Geriot

Cavaliers assistant coach Dan Geriot

Dan Geriot

Years coaching in the NBA: Geriot debuted as an assistant coach last season, and he also engaged in player development.

Before coming to Cleveland: Geriot played four seasons at Richmond, averaging 10.4 points per game and 4.1 rebounds. Geriot helped lead the Spiders to two NCAA Tournaments and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2011. After his playing career, Geriot was an assistant coach at Princeton from 2011-13, and an assistant coach at Campbell from 2013-15.

Things to know: Geriot has been climbing the ranks with Cleveland since 2015-16, when he started as a seasonal video coordinator. From 2016-18, Geriot worked as an assistant video coordinator and coaching assistant.

Fun fact: While Geriot was an assistant with Princeton, Cavs GM Koby Altman was an assistant at Columbia. Geriot’s former Richmond teammate Kevin Hovde had worked with Altman at Columbia. When Altman was Cleveland’s Director of Pro Player Personnel, he offered Geriot the position to be a seasonal video coordinator for the 2015-16 season.

Cleveland Cavaliers introduce their draft picks, Darius Garland and Dylan Windler, June 21, 2019

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Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Lindsay Gottlieb talks with the media, June 21, 2019, in Independence. (John Kuntz, cleveland.com)

Lindsay Gottlieb

Years coaching in the NBA: This will be Gottlieb’s first season on an NBA bench, hired as an assistant coach in June.

Before coming to Cleveland: Gottlieb worked the last eight years as the University of California, Berkeley women’s basketball head coach. During her time at Cal, Gottlieb led the Golden Bears to seven NCAA Tournaments, including the program’s first Elite Eight and Final Four in 2013. Gottlieb has the second-most career wins (179) in program history. Before that, Gottlieb was the California-Santa Barbara women’s head coach from 2008-11. Gottlieb was an assistant at Syracuse, New Hampshire, Richmond and Cal.

Things to know: When she was hired, Gottlieb became the first women’s college basketball head coach to be recruited to the NBA. Gottlieb wrote about joining the Cavs in The Players’ Tribune, and touched on how she had dreamed about coaching in the NBA. In a story with cleveland.com, Gottlieb spoke of how she felt Cleveland was the right fit, noting how she appreciated Beilein, Altman and the Cavs’ values. With Gottlieb’s success in building a winning culture at Cal, she should be integral for a young team going through a rebuild.

Career coaching record: 235-128

Fun fact: Gottlieb regularly visited Golden State Warriors practices as a guest of general manager Bob Myers and coach Steve Kerr. She has also gone to Los Angeles Clippers training camp.

The Players

Cavs Media Day 2019

David Petkiewicz, cleveland.com

Cavs guard Jordan Clarkson during Cavs Media Day on Monday, Sept. 30, 2019 at the Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence.

Jordan Clarkson

Years playing in the NBA: Clarkson is entering his sixth season.

Before coming to Cleveland: Clarkson began his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 14.3 points on 44.2% shooting in four seasons. Clarkson was traded with Larry Nance Jr. to the Cavs during the 2017-18 season. Before his NBA career, Clarkson played two seasons at Tulsa and one at Missouri.

Things to know: Beilein has identified Clarkson as a “wolf” in the offense because of his ability to score in a multitude of ways. Clarkson has proven to be one of the league’s best scorers off the bench. With the Cavs’ many guards, Beilein has talked about Clarkson seeing time at small forward. At 6-foot-5, Clarkson would struggle to defend bigger foes. Still, his scoring ability should continue to provide a spark.

Key stat: Clarkson averaged 16.8 points off the bench in 81 games last season, the second-most on the team. Kevin Love, who played 22 games, led with 17.0 points a game.

Fun fact: Clarkson’s favorite sport as a kid was soccer.

Cleveland Cavaliers player Tyler Cook

Cleveland Cavaliers player Tyler Cook

Tyler Cook

Years playing in the NBA: Cook is in his rookie season.

Before coming to Cleveland: Cook was with the Denver Nuggets before the Cavs claimed him off waivers Friday. Cook played three seasons at Iowa, and had career averages of 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Cook ranked 13th in the Big Ten last season in scoring, eighth in rebounds and was named to the All-Big Ten second team last season.

Things to know: Cook is on a two-way deal, which means he’ll spend most of the season with the Canton Charge. Still, Cook could play a role in the big man rotation to begin the season. Though Cook can only spend up to 45 days with the Cavs, that time frame doesn’t begin until Oct. 28, the start of the G League season.

Key stat: Cook led the Hawkeyes in points (14.5) during his last season.

Fun fact: Cook was recruited by Beilein while the first-year NBA coach was at Michigan.

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

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Matthew Dellavedova has his portrait taken at Cavs media day in September.

Matthew Dellavedova

Years playing in the NBA: Seven.

Before coming to Cleveland: Dellavedova played his first three seasons with the Cavs then signed as a free agent with Milwaukee after the 2016 title season. Dellavedova was traded back to the Cavs with John Henson last season, and he played 36 games. Dellavedova played four collegiate seasons at Saint Mary’s. During his senior year, he averaged a career-high 15.8 points and tied a career-high for assists (6.4).

Things to know: Dellavedova brings a veteran presence, with his ability to facilitate and defend earning time on the floor. During this season’s preseason finale, he suffered a right thumb sprain. Dellavedova was available to practice Monday. Beilein suggested it’s likely that rookie Darius Garland will join Collin Sexton in the starting backcourt. If so, Dellavedova will be an important role player off the bench.

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