After an extensive search, the Cleveland Cavaliers found their new head coach, as first reported by ESPN.
John Beilein accepted a five-year contract to become the Cavaliers head coach early Monday morning. The Cleveland job will be Beilein’s first time coaching in the NBA. When the position became available and the Cavaliers organization expressed an interest in hiring Beilein, it was an opportunity he couldn’t refuse.
“I want to thank the University of Michigan for what has been a truly special home and remarkable place for my family and I for the last 12 years. We have achieved great success together and we could not have done it without the incredible support of our administration, coaches, players, staff, students, fans and entire university community. We shared some of the best moments of my life together and I will always be grateful for that,” Beilein said in a statement released by the Cavaliers front office.
The decision to leave Michigan wasn’t an easy one. On the other hand, Beilein noticed a developing roster filled with young talent. The Cavs offered Beilein the head coaching position he felt most comfortable with, from top to bottom.
“I felt very strongly about this new and exciting opportunity with the Cavaliers. I am very thankful to Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman and honored to be head coach of the Cavaliers,” Beilein said. “I love the position the team is in to build and grow and this was something I felt was the perfect fit for me…Cleveland is a great city with amazing fans and I am really looking forward to calling Cleveland home for years to come.”
While the Beilein hire is perfect for both him and the Cavaliers, the decision was a bit surprising. Through their extensive coaching search, several names were rumored to be candidates or interviewed by Cleveland came up. These names included mostly young, up-and-coming assistant coaches: JB Bickerstaff, Juwan Howard, Alex Jensen, Jordi Fernandez and Juwan Howard, to name a few. Beilein’s name was never mentioned, until the official news of his hiring early Monday morning.
Why the Beilein hire is a perfect fit
When Beilein took the Michigan job in 2007, the university’s basketball team was less than mediocre. Michigan had not achieved any sort of success since the early 90s, during the “Fab Five” era. In fact, when Beilein took the head coach position there, the school’s basketball team still suffered from NCAA sanctions and violations discovered in the early 2000s.
In short, the chance to achieve success at Michigan was slim. After 12 seasons as Michigan’s head coach, Beilein achieved a record of 278-150. In addition, he led this team to nine NCAA Tournament appearances, two National Title Game appearances, two Big Ten Tournament Titles, 2 Big Ten Regular Season Titles. He also left as the program’s all-time wins leader.
Beilein also became the first Wolverines coach with consecutive 30-win seasons (his final seasons with the school). In his first season with Michigan, in 2007-2008, Beilein only won 10 games. The future didn’t appear very bright.
In terms of NBA recognition, Beilein helped get nine of his Michigan players drafted, several of which went first round. Trey Burke, currently a member of the Dallas Mavericks, won the Naismith College Player of the Year Award (2013) before ninth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was subsequently traded to the Utah Jazz.
Given the Cavaliers young roster and draft assets, along with Beilein’s player and program development abilities, the Cavaliers move should be considered a home-run hire.
Why it will work
The Cavaliers weren’t the first organization to recognize Beilein’s ability as a head coach. Last offseason, the Detroit Pistons interviewed Beilein for their coaching vacancy, before Beilein removed his name from consideration. The Pistons organization later hired Dwayne Casey.
As mentioned before, Beilein achieved a great deal of success with young players. The recruits at schools like Michigan obviously were not as highly touted as those from Duke, North Carolina or Kansas, among others. Year in and year out, however, Beilein continued to do more with less.
A roster like Cleveland provides Beilein an easier transition to the professional level, considering the team is similar to that of Michigan’s. The Cavaliers have a solid chance to land this draft’s number one selection, a fortune of luck which could further help Beilein develop this team. If the Cavaliers can land either Zion Williamson or Ja Morant, it will compliment the team’s diverse, youth roster.
During the interview process, the Cavaliers recognized the aforementioned skills Beilein brings to the table. Koby Altman, the Cavaliers general manager, expressed his admiration for Beilein as a coach and person and why he was the perfect fit for the job.
“Beilein has a unique ability to create an outstanding culture that will promote the development of young players and provide a solid structure to the entire program; not to mention the fact that John Beilein wins everywhere he goes,” Altman said.
The last part of Altman’s quote sums the Beilein hire up perfectly. At the collegiate level, Beilein won 754 games. Before accepting the Michigan Wolverines job, Beilein coached at Le Moyne (1983-1992), Canisius (1992-1997), Richmond (1997-2002) and West Virginia (2002-2007). Each school Beilein coached at, he achieved success. The Cavaliers should be no different.
After accepting the Cavaliers position, Beilein became the oldest first-time, non-interim coach in the NBA, as reported by Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. Beilein is currently 66 years old and arrives with 41 years of experience as a head coach, all at the collegiate level.
The Cavaliers young talent, which includes Cedi Osman, Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr., should continue to improve, especially under Beilein’s guidance. In addition, the veteran leadership in the organization, including Kevin Love, should help the Cavaliers development.
Beilein will take the position Larry Drew left vacant, as the hiring has already become official. Almost everyone in the organization is proud to announce Beilein as their new coach, especially the front office.
“We could not be more thrilled to name John Beilein as the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. First, John is a great human being. He cares deeply about his players and others who work for him and around him. He defines the words class, integrity and character. He is a tireless worker who obsesses about finding better ways that will help his team and the organization grow,” Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert released in a statement.
“It is no surprise that Koby [Altman] and his team landed on Beilein as great cultures attract others who hold the same values as the foundation for everything they do. I can’t wait for next season to begin.”
Adrian Wojnarowksi of ESPN reported the Cavaliers plan to surround Beilein with an experiences staff of NBA assistants. Beilein will meet the Cavaliers at the draft lottery this Tuesday in Chicago.
Gambling this season? Want to try it just to see what it feels like? Go to MyBookie.ag and use promo code ARMCHAIR25 at checkout. They will match your deposit dollar for dollar. Putting in $100? You’ll now have $200.