John Beilein looks like he is going to finish out his career coaching in the state of Michigan, but could it be somewhere that nobody even was thought possible?
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Detroit Pistons interviewed Michigan basketball’s head coach for the same position in their organization on Thursday, which would be the first time Beilein has ever coached in the NBA.
This reeks of leverage for a contract extension with Michigan, which seems like it is coming sooner rather than later anyways, but is there more going on here? This is the first time that his name has come up with an NBA opening and the allure of the pro game is nice, but the athletic department could match whatever offer he gets.
But what if it is not just that? At this point in his career, there is not much more that Beilein could accomplish at the college level other than a national title, which is so hard to pull off. Even with a stacked roster that it appears Michigan has going into next season, it would be hard to pencil them all the way into the national title game. They have been there twice and have not won it yet, which is proof of just how hard it is to pull off.
The other aspect of this is the fact that no matter what the basketball team does, they are always going to play second fiddle to the football program. And in a lot of ways, those guys will be paid as such. It is why there are pockets of open seats in the upper bowl during some big-time conference games and marquee opponents. Now, it’s nothing compared to the bright red empty seats at Little Caesars Arena, but those guys are treated like kings no matter what.
It would be shocking if Beilein left for the Pistons, which is an organization that has been without a direction for almost a decade and the years of the “Goin’ to Work” teams seem like a distant memory. There is the pull of having a pair of All Stars in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, but would that really pull Beilein away from Ann Arbor? It does not seem all that likely, especially with LeBron James ruling the Eastern Conference as long as he wants and the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers looking like they are the next in line.
From a Pistons’ point of view, courting Beilein is secretly brilliant and it is the type of bold, forward-thinking move that the franchise has been hesitant to make. Beilein has gotten every single drop of potential out of all of his teams at every level he has coached and has had his squads flourish from the perimeter, which is becoming more and more important in the NBA. He would be the perfect coach for a guy like Luke Kennard, who he once had interest in bringing to Michigan.
Michigan would be in good hands if Beilein left with Luke Yaklich, Saddi Washington and DeAndre Haynes, assuming one of those guys (likely Yaklich of this group), were to take over. It just does not seem all that likely. Nobody can fault the Pistons for trying, but they may be stuck with hiring another NBA re-tread.
Warde Manuel cannot just assume this, though.