After 12 seasons at Michigan, basketball coach John Beilein is leaving for the NBA, to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
After 12 seasons at Michigan and becoming the school’s all-time winningest coach, John Beilein is making the jump to the NBA, agreeing to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers over the weekend.
The Cavaliers went 19-63 this season, tied for the second-worst record in the NBA, a season after LeBron James left Cleveland for the second time. Beilein replaces Larry Drew, who took over after Tyronn Lue was fired after losing the first six games of the season.
Beilein takes over a developing squad that includes Kevin Love, Collin Sexton and Tristan Thompson as cornerstones. The Cavs have a 14-percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick — likely Duke’s Zion Williamson — after the NBA draft order is determined in Tuesday’s lottery.
“I felt very strongly about this new and exciting opportunity with the Cavaliers. I am very thankful to (Cavs owner) Dan Gilbert and (general manager) Koby Altman and honored to be the head coach of the Cavaliers,” Beilein said in a team statement. “I love the position the team is in to build and grow and this was something I felt was the perfect fit for me.
“With hard work and dedication by all of us, we will grow this team day by day and reinforce a culture of success that sustains itself with strong core values.”
Here are five things to know about the Cavaliers roster and the challenge that faces Beilein in his first NBA coaching job:
► Beilein loves perimeter big men in his offensive scheme — and he gets a very good one in Love, who was limited to 22 games with the Cavs this season. Love is an adept 3-point shooter who will benefit from having Beilein install a new offensive scheme that will accentuate his skills. Love looks to be the centerpiece of the Cavs’ future, having signed a four-year extension worth $120 million last summer, starting with $28.9 million next season.
► The Cavs have their point guard in Sexton, who played in all 82 games and averaged 16.7 points and 3.0 assists in his rookie season. Beilein likes pick-and-roll point guards and he’ll work to mold Sexton more to fit his offensive scheme. Beilein has shown an ability to adapt to the strengths of his roster and top players, so it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts his scheme with this group.
► Beilein has a Michigan connection in Nik Stauskas, who played on the 2013 squad that went to the national championship game. Stauskas was traded from the Trail Blazers to the Cavs in midseason but will be a free agent on July 1. It’s unclear whether Stauskas could return or whether they’ll continue their substantial rebuilt to suit Beilein’s system.
► Joining Stauskas as unrestricted free agents will be Marquese Chriss and Channing Frye, along with restricted free agents David Nwaba, Jaron Blossomgame and two-way player Deng Adel. It’ll be an opportunity to reshape the roster — through the draft and free agency — to Beilein’s liking. After next season, Thompson, John Henson, Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Knight also will be unrestricted free agents. There’s potential for a lot of roster turnover.
► Beilein likely will fill his coaching staff with NBA veterans. One name that’s popped up is Miami Heat assistant Juwan Howard, a former Wolverine who was on the Fab Five teams of 1992 and ’93. It’ll be interesting to see which other assistants will fill out the coaching roster, possibly with one or two college carryovers.
Here is the Cavaliers’ current roster, with position, age, height/weight and college in parentheses.
Deng Adel, SF, age 22, 6-7/200 (Louisville)
Jaron Blossomgame, SF, age 25, 6-8/220 (Clemson)
Marquese Chriss, PF, age 21, 6-10/240 (Washington)
Jordan Clarkson, PG, age 26, 6-5/194 (Missouri)
Matthew Dellavedova, PG, age 28, 6-4/200 (Saint Mary's)
Channing Frye, PF, age 35, 7-0/255 (Arizona)
John Henson, F, age 28, 6-11/219 (North Carolina)
Brandon Knight, PG, age 27, 6-3/195 (Kentucky)
Kevin Love, PF, age 30, 6-10/251 (UCLA)
Larry Nance Jr., PF, age 26, 6-9/230 (Wyoming)
David Nwaba, SG, age 26, 6-4/219 (Cal Poly)
Cedi Osman, SF, age 24, 6-8/215 (None)
Collin Sexton, PG, age 20, 6-2/190 (Alabama)
J.R. Smith, SG, age 33, 6-6/225 (None)
Nik Stauskas, SG, age 25, 6-6/205 (Michigan)
Tristan Thompson, C, age 28, 6-10/238 (Texas)
Ante Zizic, C, age 22, 6-11/254 (None)