Michigan Basketball knew there would be some departures this offseason from a player standpoint, but almost nobody expected the program’s fearless leader to depart Ann Arbor after 12 years. ESPN’s NBA guru Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Monday morning that John Beilein has reportedly agreed to a five year deal to coach the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
Beilein had some brief flirtation with the Detroit Pistons during the summer of 2018 before ultimately deciding to remain in Ann Arbor for what became his final season. Wojnarowski went on to elaborate that talks escalated over the weekend between Beilein and the Cavs and he made his decision early Monday morning, informing administration and the players.
Beilein would finish his tenure in Ann Arbor as Michigan’s winningest coach in program history with an overall record of 278-150 (.650) and 126-92 in the Big Ten (.578) The Wolverines won two Big Ten Tournament championships and made the NCAA Tournament nine times. The Wolverines reached at least the Sweet 16 in their past five trips to the NCAA tourney, finishing as national runner up in 2013 and 2018.
Beilein’s replacement will have large shoes to fill, and with the New York native’s departure coming at this point in the offseason, it wouldn’t be shocking to see one of Michigan’s assistants promoted from within with both Luke Yaklich and Saddi Washington being possible candidates. Washington served as Michigan’s interim head coach during the summer of 2018 when Beilein had to take some time away to have heart surgery performed. Washington led the Wolverines during their summer trip to Spain until Beilein returned just before fall practice.
Michigan will probably have several external candidates lining up at Warde Manuel’s door, but it’s hard to pinpoint whom the AD will want to replace Beilein after his successful tenure.
Beilein will be fondly remembered for helping restore a Michigan Basketball program that was in shambles when he arrived to being a contender on both the Big Ten and the national stage, but his departure comes at a surprising time. Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske and Isaiah Livers will need to provide stability through a coaching change as Michigan will enter 2019-20 under new leadership.