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Pistons interested in another meeting with John Beilein: Why the smoke is real

Oh boy.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Michigan vs Villanova Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Detroit Pistons are interested in “further conversations” with Michigan Wolverines head coach John Beilein, along with former Toronto Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey.

While many fans and pundits pointed to Beilein’s two meetings with the Pistons as the 65-year-old upping his leverage for a potential contract extension with Michigan, this report should put that notion to rest. Beilein has proved himself over his career as a malleable coach, and represents a fresh face and mind for a Detroit team that has made the playoffs once since 2009.

As Beilein has shown, he is more than ready to adapt his system to fit the Pistons’ personnel at hand, and his free-flowing system would augment the likes of Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson.

Chances like this don’t come often, either. Sure, Beilein just made the National Championship and has a history of turning low-star recruits into Michigan legends, but nothing in basketball is guaranteed. There’s no guarantee that another NBA job comes his way.

With a great recruiting class coming in this year, and a potentially elite one next year, Beilein could easily just rest on his laurels, continue to develop his patented clean culture at Michigan, and run the Big Ten.

But with the Pistons, Michigan’s lovable coach wouldn’t have to sacrifice much. For a coach that has risen all the way from the Division II ranks, the NBA represents the final and ultimate progression in his ascension to basketball immortality.

If Beilein can put his fingerprint on the NBA in the same way that he did with Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and Michigan, he could get the same, if not greater validation that he would from a Michigan National Championship. He wouldn’t have to pack up his whole life, and gone would be the days of spending summers hot on the recruiting trail instead of on a beach in the UP.

Maybe the signs really are just a smokescreen. Maybe it really is just leverage on Beilein’s part to get Warde Manuel to pay up. But maybe, just maybe, Beilein has never had less to lose.