First-year Cleveland Cavaliers coach John Beilein is disputing a report that his players are tuning him out.
Beilein spoke before Friday night's 93-87 loss to the Orlando Magic and addressed a report from The Athletic that quoted anonymous Cleveland players. The report said players have complained about Beilein's coaching style and said his methods are not working.
The former Michigan coach said he believes he has his players' attention and that they have been receptive.
"We've met ... and it's like, 'Coach, keep doing what you're doing because we really need this. We need accountability. We need to play harder, stronger, tougher. Don't stop what you're doing,'" Beilein said. "We were the worst defensive team in the NBA last year. What do we do, practice less?
"I have a lot of confidence the guys in the locker room are on board, and they've told me that."
Cavs power forward Larry Nance Jr. expressed support for Beilein and disappointment that teammates had commented about the coach behind his back.
"Ideally you want to keep that in-house if there was those issues," Nance said after Friday's loss, the Cavs' fifth straight and 11th in their past 12 games. "I guess that's today's NBA. ... I've never had an issue with a coach in my career, him being no different. I wanted to play for him at Michigan. I'm enjoying it."
Forward Tristan Thompson, who said he was unaware of the report, said he was disappointed to learn that some teammates had anonymously criticized Beilein.
"It's not fair," said Thompson, growing more agitated the more he learned about the report.
"I love Coach Beilein," Thompson added. "He's great for development, and he understands that players have so much in them, and he wants to get the best out of you. ... I'm thinking the guy is pretty good. I'm probably the smartest guy in this locker room, so if I think I know what the guy is doing, then we shouldn't hear nothing else, to be honest."
The report also quoted players' saying they are turning more to top assistant J.B. Bickerstaff than Beilein. Thompson said that has been the case with every coach he has played for. The assistant is more accessible simply because he doesn't have as many responsibilities as the head coach.
As for players hiding in secrecy, Thompson said that has to stop.
"If you're going to build a culture and a family, you can't have that chatty Patty [stuff] going on," he said. "That is whack to me. Everyone has got to look in the mirror. There's only so much coach can do, and there's only so much we can do. Do we have the best roster in the NBA? No. But we're going to go out there and compete every night. But guys got to look in the mirror."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.