Former University of Michigan basketball head coach John Beilein raised eyebrows across the sports world Monday morning when it was announced that he was going to make the leap to the NBA as the new bench boss of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cleveland had reportedly been looking for a “culture driver” in their search for a new coach after Larry Drew was not renewed following the firing of Tyronn Lue. And with Beilein’s resume including two Final Four appearances and four Big Ten titles in 12 years in Ann Arbor, he’s got a strong case to be able to do just that.
It certainly also helps that Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman and assistant GM Mike Gansey have long been intrigued by Beilein, with the latter having a close history and relationship with him, having played under Beilein while at West Virginia. And with team owner Dan Gilbert’s proximity to Ann Arbor, he was able to see how Beilein’s coaching abilities helped Michigan – despite his being loyal to Michigan State.
Of course, the Cavaliers are in the midst of a full-on rebuild, having lost LeBron James last summer to free agency. But with young point guard Collin Sexton and a 14% chance of landing the top NBA draft selection, the job looked appealing.
Beilein has previously flirted with NBA coaching jobs, having conducted discussions with the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic last year before ultimately deciding to return to Michigan.
He informed Michigan of his decision this morning, and is expected to join the front office and ownership in Chicago for the lottery and draft combine this week.