Wildly successful at Michigan in college basketball and other stops in his coaching career, the 67-year-old Beilein never got comfortable during his short stint in the pro game, with the Cavs’ 14-4 record the second-worst in the NBA.
“This was a very difficult decision for me, but I want to be clear – this was my decision to step down and I truly appreciate the understanding and support of the front office during this time,” Beilein said in a statement released by the team.
“I find losing very challenging and this year has taken a much bigger toll on me than I expected.”
The Cavaliers reportedly reached a financial settlement with Beilein, who was in the first season of a five-year deal that was worth approximately $4 million ($A6 million) per season.
The team said he will be reassigned to a different role within the organisation.
Associate head coach Bickerstaff, who had become the preferred sounding board for Cleveland’s players, will assume control immediately.
He has head coaching experience after nearly two full seasons in Memphis and one with Houston and will be the seventh man to take charge of the Cavs since 2013.
Beilein was a surprise hire by the Cavaliers and the season didn’t go well.
In addition to the lack of success, Beilein had to apologise to the team in January over his word choice in a film session.
He reportedly called his players “thugs” during a meeting at the team hotel in Detroit.
Beilein said he had meant to say the team was “no longer playing like a bunch of slugs,” intending to compliment his squad for playing faster in recent games.
The Cavaliers resume play on Saturday (AEDT) on the road in Washington.