CLEVELAND — John Beilein left the University of Michigan following a successful 12-year run and will take his shot in the NBA, signing a five-year contract Monday to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Beilein, 66, wasn’t thought to be on the team’s radar, but the Cavs are confident he’s the right choice to continue their rebuild and get them back to relevance following a 19-63 season.

The deal with Beilein came together quickly in the past 24 hours and was finalized Sunday after the Cavs spent the weekend in Denver interviewing several NBA assistants. Cleveland is expected to surround Beilein with an experienced staff, and it’s possible the team will hire one of the other candidates as an associate head coach.

Beilein, who is 829-468 (.639) as a college coach, inherits a young Cleveland team that includes All-Star forward Kevin Love, point guard Collin Sexton – who’s coming off a strong rookie season – forward Larry Nance Jr. and guard Jordan Clarkson.

He’s one of only four coaches to take four schools to the NCAA tournament, and will leave Michigan with the most victories in school history. Beilein also coached at Nazareth College, LeMoyne, Canisius, Richmond and West Virginia.

THE DRAFT lottery is Tuesday night in Chicago, where some team will be awarded the No. 1 pick in the June 20 draft, and presumably the chance to grab Zion Williamson of Duke with that selection.

New York, Cleveland and Phoenix share the best odds: They’ve all got a 14 percent chance of winning under a new format that was designed in 2017 and put into play this year to discourage teams from all-out tanking. Williamson, the consensus college basketball player of the year this past season, is expected to be in the audience when the lottery results are announced.

“Whatever NBA team I land on, that’s where I want to be,” said Williamson, who will turn pro after his freshman season with Duke. “Whoever drafts me, that’s where I want to be.”

THE CONFERENCE finals begin Tuesday night when Portland plays at Golden State in the West. The Eastern series starts Wednesday night when Toronto plays at Milwaukee.

The conference winners will meet in a best-of-seven series for the NBA championship.


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