This Week's Obsession: Panic or Run Around Screaming?

Submitted by Seth on June 6th, 2018 at 10:23 AM
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The Question:

Beilein to the Pistons?

The Responses:

Seth: Let me start by apologizing for the gifs; I was going to publish this on the Geocities site but we got the real one up faster than I anticipated (seriously: HUEL ftw!)

Ace: We should probably start with some linkage, since there’s a lot that hasn’t been covered since we posted on this last. The starting point here is Brendan Quinn’s article that this is not just some ploy for a personal/staff raise:

In other words, Beilein does not need an NBA job offer to garner a pay raise that would be the equivalent of an NBA salary.

“He’s not trying to create leverage,” said one source with knowledge of Beilein’s dealings with the Pistons. “That has nothing to do with any of this.”

What it boils down to, point blank, is whether Beilein, at 65, wants to try his hand in the NBA or not. That’s it.

And then there’s this:

There’s legitimate interest on both sides. That said, Casey seems to be the first choice.

And this:

Alex: It's worth noting that in addition to all of the obvious things that make this a relatively unappealing NBA job (they haven't won a playoff game since 1964, they cycled through coaches almost annually until SVG got there, the roster is inflexible, mediocre, and nearly capped out, etc.), the Pistons haven't even hired a GM yet.

Seth: Yeah we should have known (I'm guilty too) with Beilein the usual reasons coaches take those kinds of meetings don't apply.

Brian: Seriously though, Warde: biggest assistant pool in the Big Ten, now.

BiSB: Which would have been reasonable after last season anyway, given the defensive happenings. That it might entice Beilein to stay is a well-timed bonus.

The Mathlete: I think given Beilein's career trajectory, the whole High School to Community College to D3 all the way up to the NBA is what is tantalizing to him

Seth: Detroit is a bottom tier job in the NBA but I learned long ago to stop underestimating Beilein. If anyone can win with the Pistons and their current contract situations it's him.

Brian: Lebron James kid.

[hit THE JUMP...I think. If the jump is working.]

Alex: Per Woj, NBA teams have been curious for a while. So why now? Who knows. It's not like it's a good job. But if the choice is between coaching against the likes of North Florida or the likes of, I don't know, the best basketball players in the world - it makes a lot more sense. Plus it's not like he'd have to uproot his personal life for it.

Ace: Yeah, if you think like a coach, you could see it as a great challenge. LeBron James may not be in the East next year.

The Mathlete: He has literally done it every level except the NBA, any success in the NBA would give him the most unique resume in basketball coaching history

Alex: Let's be clear though: chances are that if he takes the job, it won't work out.

Ace: Also: I think chances are he stays because Casey gets the job.

Alex: As much as I want to see Luke Kennard, All-Star, there's going to be a lot of conflict.

Ace: But the chance he leaves is extant and terrifying.

BiSB: It's worth noting that Beilein is 65.

Ace: Alex, I will fight you.

Seth: Can anyone make Andre Drummond a 30 percent three point shooter? No.

Alex: He wouldn't need Drummond to shoot threes.

BiSB: You're saying John Beilein couldn't adapt to a funky roster?

The Mathlete: Beilein's closest analogue as a college coach, not recruiter, has done OK in Boston

Alex: He could, but he wouldn't make Dre shoot threes.

Brian: He's 65 and the Pistons have an aging power forward highly reliant on his athleticism signed for the next four years, no cap flexibility, no first round pick, and little ability to attract free agents.

BiSB: You say that like it's a bad thing.

Brian: I just think this whole thing is weird because of the situation the Pistons are in.

Alex: Anyways, I think Billy Donovan's experience is instructive. Was younger and more successful than Beilein when he took a (much better) pro job, though he almost took the Magic job a few years before making the leap. Basically, KD and Russ ran the show, and while Donovan has had some success, I guess, he found himself at the whims of superstars - one of whom abandoned him.

Ace: It’s going to come down to two things: (1) whether he even gets the job offer in the first place, and (2) whether he thinks this is his last shot at the NBA and decides he wants to take it.

Alex: If Blake Griffin doesn't like Beilein, his tenure is almost assuredly doomed to fail.

The Mathlete: But Beilein's always been a "make chicken salad" kind of guy, he doesn't go around looking for an easy situation

Alex: I still think Casey gets the job, but he's in a position to take a year off, relax, and get a better one.

The Mathlete: Best situation is off the table, if he is set living in Ann Arbor, this is the ONLY chance he has to move to the NBA

Ace: It is worth pointing out that Casey will make about $6M this year to not coach if he wants. That’s… quite a sabbatical.

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Alex: The difference in precarity between Michigan and the Pistons is a big reason why I don't think this will happen, but if he does want to make the leap, maybe he's content with seeing how things turn out and stepping away from the game if it doesn't work. If he only has a few years left, why not?

Brian: Meanwhile in Ann Arbor he has just locked down his defense and brought in his best recruiting class ever, plus is looking at a 2019 class on par or better. If he wants to cap his career with anything other than a second-round playoff exit, the Pistons are a crazy pick.

Alex: I'm guessing Beilein realizes that college basketball is very small-time compared to the NBA and that has to be a motivating factor.

Ace: Yeah, I’d be significantly more worried if a different team were going after him.

The Mathlete: It seems like it comes down to how he wants to be defined, the guy who did it at every level, or make a push to get the capstone in Ann Arbor

Seth: Beilein spends way more time that any of us around people who talk about the NBA like it's Oz.

Ace: But I agree with Alex, there’s a huge gap to the NBA and it’d be a hell of a thing for Beilein to go from high school to the pinnacle without (everyone with me now) ever being an assistant.

Alex: I think the curiosity of wondering whether he could do it has to be eating at him.

Brian: John Beilein is the last person on earth who cares about how cool the NBA is

Ace: This ain’t about cool.

BiSB: "Form a gosh-darn wall..."

The Mathlete: This is about going coast to coast as a head coach

Alex: It's not about cool. It's about whether you want to game-plan for Illinois and Minnesota or the Warriors and the Rockets.

Seth: Every coach on that level cares about trying himself against the best.

Ace: Do you want to match wits with Richard Pitino or Gregg Popovich?

The Mathlete:

Brian: Do you want to be a disposable GM lackey largely dependent on the whims and contracts of players that you have no control over or be the whole program?

Ace: Do you want your legacy determined by a single-elimination tournament?

The point is there’s a lot going both ways.

BiSB: They aren't all Richard Pitino. I'm guessing he still enjoys his matchups with Painter and Izzo.

Seth: I do.

Ace: And we don’t think like coaches.

Alex: And we can sit here saying the Pistons job is bad (it objectively is) but at some point, any NBA job is better than any college job - if you're looking at them in a particular way. The question is whether Beilein sees it like that or not.

Brian: I could not disagree with that more strenuously. The level of control and job security Beilein has in college will never be matched in the NBA.

The next Pistons coach is a sacrificial lamb with zero roster flexibility.

Ace: If you’re looking at them in a particular way.

Alex: I don't see it that way.

Ace: Brian’s NBA hatred is stronk.

Alex: Most NBA fans think college basketball is shit. They're not entirely wrong!

BiSB: The quality of basketball =/= the quality of the job.

Ace: Beilein with the challenge of NBA defenses and a 24 second shot clock is wildly interesting.

Brian: I don't hate the NBA. Please don't ascribe logical arguments to irrationality.

Ace: …to Beilein, I’m guessing.

BiSB: But, again, you have to presume a learning curve, which is a tough leap to make when you're many decades into your career.

Alex: I'm guessing Beilein would rather spend all of the time he currently spends on recruiting, compliance, meeting with boosters, whatever, actually coaching instead.

Seth: I think this is his Texas A&M moment. College vs Pros aside this is a chance to be John Beilein the big deal. Does he want to be in charge of the second sport at Michigan but stay true to his players in the program he built, or get a shot to be considered among the best in his profession by more than just the people who pay attention. Bo had to think about it.

Ace: He’s already the best coach who’s ever come here and the only thing he has left to do is win an NCAA title, which he probably well realizes by now is a thing that can be pretty fluky.

Alex: In a vacuum, Michigan - to me - seems like a better job than Detroit, but that's subjective and who knows what Beilein's criteria are.

Ace: On the other hand, he could very well win that title—maybe multiple titles!—with what he’s putting together at Michigan.

Alex: But probably not.

Ace: It’s insanely tough.

Alex: And requires a lot of luck.

Brian: The chance of winning a thing at Michigan is higher than the chance of the Pistons getting out of the first round.

Ace: …disagree.

Alex: Michigan got a lot of that luck in 2018 but met the best team in the country both times he made it that far.

BiSB: I hate to point this out, but this is the longest Beilein has ever been in one place.

Alex: I strongly disagree as well.

Brian: Well we'll just shine up the MADE THE SECOND ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS banner for the HOF induction

Alex: I was going to say that Bryan! He might feel a nagging sense of complacency. I have no idea. It's hard to try to evaluate this from his point of view.

To me the essential question is if Beilein wants to compete against the best so badly that he'll leave a very stable and successful career for the vagaries and unknowns that would come with that competition.

BiSB: Rutgers Fandom to your head, though, I'm guessing we all predict he stays?

slackbot: I think you mean Rutger

Ace: Yes.

Alex: I think they'll hire Casey.

Brian: People do strange things all the time but it would be real strange.

Ace: There’s also a Spurs assistant out there.

Alex: I am not confident Beilein would turn down an offer. At all.

Ace: If he gets an offer, I will be in a bunker.

BiSB: You make MGeoCitiesBlog sad, Alex

Alex: Sorry.

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Brian: It's also kind of weird from the Pistons perspective since it would infuriate a large section of their fanbase.

Brian: But it's not like the Pistons are known for good ideas.

BiSB: Yeah, as much as we love Beilein, if I'm an NBA fan, why is my team going after a 65-year-old college system guy with no NBA experience?

Alex: The Pistons have no flexibility and no draft picks (this season). Might as well grab a lotto ticket instead of a retread that has a 0.0% chance.

Ace: TOM GORES MSU OPERATIVE CONSPIRACY TIME

come on!

Seth: So the other question... What if?

Alex: I'll periscope myself taking shots of bleach.

Brian: If Beilein leaves I am dead serious about hiring Yaklich.

Alex: I probably shouldn't say this but I can't say that I'm not very intrigued by the possibility of seeing what happens. Obviously I would be devastated... maybe we can clone Beilein and see how Beilein 2.0 does.

Ace: Yeah, promote Yak.

BiSB: He gon' Steinbrenner our asses?

Alex: Give Yak the interim tag for a season and see what happens?

Ace: That’s probably the play.

Alex: No need to do a multi-year deal.

Ace: Covers for the lack of experience. And there’s no way he turns it down.

BiSB: It's already June. No chance they find a home run hire this year

Alex: Also: there's mounting evidence that Gores is a Bad Owner so that's worth noting.

Seth: Yaklich keeps the 2019 class probably.

Alex: OSU grabbed Holtmann around this time last season.

Brian: Also who would that even be? There's no Shaka out there, Gregg Marshall has that Koch money, and the Xavier/Butler wells are still reloading.

Ace: There isn’t a mid-major name that jumps out to me either.

Alex: To answer your question though: there's no obvious candidate and the regional mid-majors have been depleted. Musselman would be my out-of-the-box choice if we're okay with a Hoiberg-style transfer factory.

But would he leave a Top 10 team? Probably not.

Ace: He’s only paid $1M/year, could get money cannon’d.

BiSB: Maybe you poke some names like Mick Cronin/Mark Few/Eric Musselman and see if anyone bites?

Ace: Cronin is a no.

Alex: I would not be thrilled with Cronin.

Brian: Notable that Yaklich was able to pull Castleton from more or less out of nowhere and was the main guy on Jalen Wilson.

Alex: Few wouldn't take it. A Porter Moser type would scare me.

Ace: Yeah, you’re taking a shot a Few and then deciding if you want to take another at Musselman or just roll with Yak and see what you have while keeping the most continuity.

BiSB: Few would be a longshot. I don't know a lot about Musselman, but they are winning and recruiting.

Ace: I wouldn’t have been very excited about Yak even at the end of the season but the way he’s recruiting has me pretty intrigued.

Alex: Michigan is a really good job - especially with how stacked the figurative cupboard is - but this is an awkward time for a search. The coaching carousel has stopped.

Ace: Juwan Howard, anyone? The Pistons are looking at him!

Alex: I wonder if Washington would get the nod over Yaklich on the basis of seniority—though neither have been around long.

Ace: Yak was the right-hand man last year. I think he’d be the guy.

Alex: Let's hire the AAU guy that got Romeo Weems to commit to DePaul.

BiSB: Lorenzo Romar is still out there...

Brian: We could finally go get Rick Pitino

Alex: My most serious idea is to give Billy Donovan a godfather offer on the off chance he doesn't laugh and hang up.

Brian: I don't think there are any godfather offers coming.

Alex: True.

Ace: Depressingly true.

Alex: When you can pay a bunch of crappy football assistants a million a year, you gotta do it. Some not crappy though!

(please don't hurt me Mr. Brown)

Ace: Eat at Arby’s, read MGoBlog.

Seth: So Yaklich or LaVall Jordan? Because I don't think anyone has mentioned there is a quasi Heir Apparent out there.

Ace: Michigan should be able to out-bid Butler even without going full money cannon. It would be the Holtmann. Plus, if you can also keep Yaklich on staff, then you’ve really got something going.

Alex: If Yaklich doesn't follow Beilein to Detroit (sorry). I'll end my piece by saying this: while it may seem like there are no Gary Battles in the NBA, there actually are. So keep that in mind if you're reading this, John.

Ace: Also, seriously, Tom freakin’ Gores?

I just have such a hard time seeing Beilein mesh with someone who chests out so hard.

I swear this is actually Tom Jones:

BiSB: Like some sort of Tom Jones/Don Johnson hybrid.

Ace: There’s no way he mows his own lawn.

Seth: That so needs to be a gif.

/giphy Tom Gores

Ace: STAY AWAY, JOHN.

BiSB: Giphy has spoken

Comments

Jkidd49

June 6th, 2018 at 10:38 AM ^

I don't think there has ever been more than a 10% chance this would happen... its just as likely that he's simply being interviewed and involved with the Pistons because A) he's close and B) he's so respected as a basketball coach.  Unless you think Beilein's been hiding this massive ego all these years, I don't see this obvious draw to coaching that team, in that league at the age of 65 esp given his current status / success at Michigan.

ijohnb

June 6th, 2018 at 10:55 AM ^

I just think it is a shiny new thing and it just may be enticing to him to do something different.  It doesn’t appear that Beilein has had any long held NBA aspirations, but simply that there is an NBA team in his back yard that is interested in him and that is intriguing to him because it is an opportunity he didn’t really think he would get.  As conflicted as Michigan fans are on this, I’m guessing he is having a hard time with this.  The sensible-rational part of him is probably him to stay where he is and do what he does best, while the other part is saying “It is the NBA, and you would not even have to move, take the job man!”

JC06Z33

June 6th, 2018 at 12:06 PM ^

I took it as hyperbole.  But still odd because the franchise is less than 15 years removed from a ring and close to a second.  That's a lot more recent success than the majority of the teams in the NBA and I don't know if it warrants such an exaggeration.  They aren't the Lions.

trueblueintexas

June 6th, 2018 at 10:51 AM ^

This is most likely a situation where a couple calls were made, and it progressed to the point where both sides had to say yes to an interview. Beilein because he can not burn bridges with NBA contacts because part of his goal is to get his players to the NBA. Detroit because they have to show they checked every option before hiring the guy they already know they want to hire.

ak47

June 6th, 2018 at 11:24 AM ^

I enjoy Brian being incredibly wrong and then getting really defensive about it. Any NBA job is considered more elite than any college job. If you don't think that its because you don't like the NBA. Now it might not be a perfect fit in every situation, personalities might clash, some guys might like recruiting a lot, etc. But the job is more prestigious and it makes perfect sense that Beilein would be interested even though the Pistons are in a bad spot roster management wise.

stephenrjking

June 6th, 2018 at 12:03 PM ^

More people have heard of Phil Jackson and Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich than Mark Few and Tom Crean and whomever is the guy coaching at NC State, etc. Who is the coach at UConn right now? Who is coaching at Stanford? 

The NBA is the highest level of basketball, full stop. There is, unquestionably, appeal to coaching in that league to a basketball guy. Even for people who are happy where they are, the highest level has appeal. A local news anchor will see appeal in anchoring a national primetime news program. A local writer will be attracted to the idea of writing for the New York Times. A local financial advisor can see the appeal of working on Wall Street. A guy on the tech staff at the local theater can be attracted to the idea of working a show on Broadway. 

Beilein knows basketball. And, as it happens, basketball is kinda coming his way, stylistically. This seems to be a genuine professional interest. Not necessarily enough to get him to leave Michigan, but... hey, why not take that call? If Seth got a call to be the boss of ESPN.com, he might decide he likes covering Michigan and staying with MGoblog, but he's probably taking the call, right? The Pistons are in the NBA and, importantly, the job would allow him to keep his family in place, reducing the transition cost. He already encourages his players to try out the draft process even if they don't leave; why not do the same himself and take a look?

stephenrjking

June 6th, 2018 at 12:03 PM ^

More people have heard of Phil Jackson and Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich than Mark Few and Tom Crean and whomever is the guy coaching at NC State, etc. Who is the coach at UConn right now? Who is coaching at Stanford? 

The NBA is the highest level of basketball, full stop. There is, unquestionably, appeal to coaching in that league to a basketball guy. Even for people who are happy where they are, the highest level has appeal. A local news anchor will see appeal in anchoring a national primetime news program. A local writer will be attracted to the idea of writing for the New York Times. A local financial advisor can see the appeal of working on Wall Street. A guy on the tech staff at the local theater can be attracted to the idea of working a show on Broadway. 

Beilein knows basketball. And, as it happens, basketball is kinda coming his way, stylistically. This seems to be a genuine professional interest. Not necessarily enough to get him to leave Michigan, but... hey, why not take that call? If Seth got a call to be the boss of ESPN.com, he might decide he likes covering Michigan and staying with MGoblog, but he's probably taking the call, right? The Pistons are in the NBA and, importantly, the job would allow him to keep his family in place, reducing the transition cost. He already encourages his players to try out the draft process even if they don't leave; why not do the same himself and take a look?

ak47

June 6th, 2018 at 12:08 PM ^

You are on a college sports blog but this just isn't that true. Significantly more people watch and follow the NBA. In K and Roy Williams you named the two longest tenured at the biggest schools coaches that are both probably top 10 all time college coaches and the list of college coaches people knows better probably ends there. If you ask people who follow basketball who the best coaches are you'll get greg popovich, steve kerr, brad stevens before you get any college coaches except for maybe K because of his work with the national team.

And NBA coaches may be disposable but they also tend to get other jobs. Casey is the favorite for the Pistons job a month after being fired. Scott Brooks went from OKC to the Wizards, D'Antoni has coached multiple teams, and the list goes on. The NBA is the highest level in the sport, people in the sport are competitive and for super competitive people obtaining success at the highest level is the ultimate goal. To pretend like college basketball holds a candle to the NBA in terms of the basketball being played is asinine.

dcmaizeandblue

June 6th, 2018 at 1:10 PM ^

So I guess college coaches don’t get other jobs either? I don’t get the point here. Shit we just played kelvin Sampson ncaa tournament this year. Tom Crean seemed to find another spot quickly. Tommy Amaker still appears to be employed. My list could probably go on as well. 

dragonchild

June 6th, 2018 at 11:55 AM ^

Prestigious?  No.  Not that NBA athletes are better or worse on average than any other league, but there are fewer of them, so the ones you're stuck with have a disproportionate amount of leverage.  If your boss is a stupid owner who threw a ton of money and draft picks at overrated, aging high-volume guys or some such, congrats, it's now your job to make someone else's mess work.  In college you can bench a player; in the NBA a player can fire you.

And in that context, we're talking about the Pistons.  The thought, to me at least, is as appealing as middle management at Amazon.

ak47

June 6th, 2018 at 12:14 PM ^

There are maybe 5 players in the NBA today who can get a coach fired. This is so overstated. The pistons job isn't middle management at Amazon, its being offered the CEO of yahoo when you are the CEO of Five Guys. Sure you run a relatively well known establishment and Yahoo has been struggling but they are at completely different levels of prestige so you sure as hell at least take the Yahoo interview.

NoVaWolverine

June 6th, 2018 at 12:30 PM ^

"Any NBA job is considered more elite than any college job."

Um... I don't think so, for the reasons dcmaizenblue gives. I'm a very casual fan of both NBA and NCAA basketball (outside of March), and if you asked me point-blank to name all current NBA head coaches, I'm not sure I'd get beyond 10. 

Let's say you pose this choice to a guy just starting out coaching hoops -- you can choose one of these as the pinnacle of your coaching career:

  1. You become an NBA coach for a mediocre franchise in a non-glamorous city, say Charlotte. You have a so-so four-year run with one playoff birth and get the ax, but make some good money in the meantime.
  2. You wind up coaching a blue-blood NCAA program, make perennial Sweet 16 appearances and the occasional Final Four, maybe even win a national title or two. You become a legend for that program -- Coach K, Dean Smith, Bobby Knight level. And you still make pretty damn good money.

I'd think most would choose #2. Sure, some might want to grab the NBA money, or dislike recruiting, etc. But you're going to be better remembered as #2.

It's the same thing w/football. Ask a young coach if he'd rather turn out to be Nick Saban -- legend at a blue-blood NCAA program, has 100% job security and total control over every detail of his program -- or someone anonymous NFL mediocrity like, I dunno, Doug Marrone.

I do understand why Beilein would be strongly intrigued, for all the reasons mentioned above. Match wits with great coaches like Popovich, Carlisle, Kerr, and Stevens (and show he's better than not-great ones like ... Scott Brooks). Satisfy his curiosity about whether he could succeed at that level before he retires. etc.  But he is pretty damn close to achieving #2 at Michigan and I have to think ultimately he stays. Plus, he LOVES to teach and see these young men develop -- watch his comments to the media outside the locker room after the loss to Villanova. You don't get those relationships in the NBA.

Hotel Putingrad

June 6th, 2018 at 11:32 AM ^

A better question is, why would Casey take the job? He's getting paid not to coach next year, and this is not, objectively speaking, a great opportunity. I think the Spurs assistant ultimately ends up being the guy, but personally I give JB one chance in three here.

cletus318

June 6th, 2018 at 1:06 PM ^

At the end of the day, there are only so many head coaching jobs available. Casey, despite his success in Toronto as a whole, isn't somebody teams are going to be beating down the door to hire. Also, you aren't generally going to be taking over a "great" opportunity as a new coach, because there's generally a reason a team is looking for a new coach in the first place. There aren't going to be many instances in which you get to take over a young playoff team like Steve Kerr did, or even if you do, that "great" situation can turn pretty quickly. Ask Billy Donovan.

DMill2782

June 6th, 2018 at 11:59 AM ^

Brian is right. The next Pistons coach is a sacrificial lamb. They will be fired and it won't be their fault. The roster is pretty terrible. Griffin and Drummond are two of the most overpaid players in the NBA, so you can't move them. Who else is left to build around? Luke Kennard? Woopty freaking doo! 

Basically, the Pistons are going to be bad until JB is 70 years old. 

BlueChip27

June 6th, 2018 at 12:29 PM ^

This whole thing has been a bit more than weird.....I have a hard time believing that Coach is truly interested in coaching this band of characters or in the NBA for that matter. Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson are incredibly over rated and injury prone and Andre Drummond is not going to be the 2nd coming of anything resembling an elite center. If Coach was to go to the NBA I think there would be better situations for him to look at should he truly be interested. 

The other odd thing is why? Curiosity maybe. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy that would need to resort to leverage to get him or his assistants a raise.Maybe this is his way of telling Warde it needs to happen sooner than later.

In any case, I think he stays....they have a great foundation to build on for the next several years.