The Cavaliers’ coaching search had seemed relatively uninspiring, focused on so many NBA assistants around the league, it was hard to get excited about any of them.
But Cleveland is making a huge splash.
University of Michigan coach John Beilein has agreed to a five-year contract to become the Cleveland Cavaliers coach, league sources told ESPN.
Beilein interviewed with the Pistons last year before Dwane Casey got that job. It appeared that would be the last great opportunity for Beilein, 66, to jump to the NBA.
But the Cavs came calling, and Beilein couldn’t turn down this opportunity. He has risen a head coach in high school, junior college, Division III, Division II and Division I. This is the final step, and it must be so rewarding to have a chance to prove himself on the highest level.
Beilein’s spread offensive concepts should translate. He’s a great teacher who would have made sense in the NBA long before the league began to view him as a serious coaching candidate. In the meantime, Michigan also developed an elite defense. However involved or not Beilein was in that, credit him for hiring good assistants. That’s an important part of head-coaching. Beilein’s ability to adjust, in the micro and macro, is outstanding.
Going to a league where players have more power than college will be a test, but the Cavaliers’ situation should help. They’re rebuilding, and expected roster churn over the next couple years should limit players’ ability to gripe. It’s important for Beileien to connect early and avoid a culture where players think they can walk all over him. His ability to help them develop their games and his genuine nature will be his best assets as he works to command respect.
This is an especially interesting hire considering Cavs owner Dan Gilbert attended Michigan State. He previously targeted Michigan State coach Tom Izzo – which could have set back Gilbert’s college and pro teams. Izzo is a great college coach who has since struggled to maximize his future NBA players. Instead, Gilbert now poaches arguably the best coach rival Michigan has ever had.
Beilein is no sure thing in the NBA. But considering where he and the Cavaliers are at this point, this is a great experiment for both to undertake.