After several attempts to lure longtime Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo to the Cavaliers, team owner Dan Gilbert found his big-name college coach from Michigan in the Wolverines’ John Beilein.
The Cavs confirmed reaching a multi-year agreement, reportedly five years, with Beilein late Monday morning.
“We conducted a deep and thorough search to find the best possible candidate for the next head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers,” said Cavs General Manager Koby Altman in a statement. “We interviewed several strong and talented candidates who, no doubt, will get an opportunity to become an NBA head coach somewhere down the line. Following the end of those interviews, it became clear to us that Coach Beilein was the right choice and best fit for our franchise.”
Most of the names associated with the Cavs coaching search were young assistants who had worked for the franchise before, such as Jamahl Mosley, Alex Jensen and Jordi Fernandez. But the Cavs chose 66-year-old Beilein, who had a successful run at Michigan and also coached current Cavs Assistant General Manager Mike Gansey at West Virginia University. Under Beilein, Michigan made nine NCAA Tournament appearances while also winning two Big Ten regular season and two Big Ten Tournament titles under Beilein. Over 12 seasons, Beilein became the winningest coach in University of Michigan's school history.
Beilein took Michigan to the Final Four and a pair of National Championship Game appearances in 2013 and 2018, with the trip to the title game in 2013 being the first in 20 years for the school. He’s also one of 14 coaches to take four different college teams to the NCAA Tournament.
“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,” Beilein said in a statement. 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 the entire university community.
“At the same time, 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 the head coach of the Cavaliers. 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. Cleveland is a great city with amazing fans and I am really looking forward to calling Cleveland home for years to come.”
The Cavaliers were considered an attractive destination for a new head coach thanks to the promise shown by guard Collin Sexton in his rookie year, a veteran All-Star in Kevin Love and young forwards Cedi Osman and Larry Nance Jr. The Cavaliers also share the top odds to receive the number one pick in the NBA Draft with Phoenix and New York. The NBA Draft lottery to determine selction order will be held Tuesday night.
Before the search, Altman spoke of the importance of finding a coach who specializes in player development, which made Beilein’s success at multiple universities a fit for Cleveland. Beilein is also known as an offensive tactician, with a system that emphasizes ball movement, motion and outside shooting. Beilein has also enjoyed a long career college basketball without a hint of NCAA investigation for violations in academics or improper benefits.
“First, John is a great human being,” said Gilbert in a statement. “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 and the inches that will help his team and the organization grow. John is a brilliant basketball mind and last but not least, John Beilein is a winner.”
Beilein interviewed with the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic last year before deciding to return to the college ranks. His career record in NCAA basketball is 829-468, placing him in the top 10 for career victories among active NCAA Division I head coaches.