Report: Michigan's Juwan Howard 'Gaining Traction' as NBA Head Coach Candidate

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIAugust 24, 2020

Michigan head coach Juwan Howard gestures during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Maryland, Sunday, March 8, 2020, in College Park, Md. Maryland won 83-70. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

For the second time in as many years, NBA teams are interested in a head coach from the University of Michigan. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that Wolverines men's basketball coach Juwan Howard is "gaining traction" among some front offices in need of a head coach.

The former NBA star and Miami Heat assistant returned to his alma mater last summer after the Cleveland Cavaliers hired John Beilein, who coached Michigan from 2007-08 to 2018-19.

The Cavs quickly came to regret the decision, and Beilein resigned in February after 54 games.

In the meantime, Howard led the Wolverines to a 19-12 record and a ninth place finish in the Big Ten—the school's worst mark since 2014-15—yet had wins over No. 6 North Carolina, No. 8 Gonzaga, No. 16 Michigan State and No. 25 Rutgers. 

The coach tweeted a statement Monday afternoon reaffirming his commitment to Michigan

Juwan Howard @JuwanHoward


Howard put together the top 2020 recruiting class in the Big Ten, per 247Sports, landing three 4-star prospects in center Hunter Dickinson, shooting guard Zeb Jackson and power forward Terrance Williams. He brought in Wake Forest transfer guard Chaundee Brown as well. 247Sports ranked the group as the 15th-best class in the country, and Michigan's 2021 recruits form the No. 5 class in the nation. 

Howard has four years left on a five-year, $11.2 million contract, but the NBA may be more tempting than ever.

A number of contenders are in the market for a new head coach, including Brooklyn Nets and likely the Philadelphia 76ers. Howard's hometown Chicago Bulls are also looking for someone to succeed Jim Boylen, with executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas wanting a leader with a track record of player development.

The uncertainty surrounding college sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic could make a jump to the NBA more enticing too. 

Both the Big Ten and Pac-12 have postponed fall sports because of the pandemic, and the NCAA is working to determine what a college basketball season could look like this year. The NBA, meanwhile, has found success playing inside of a bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida. 

In any case, Howard could have an option worth weighing soon.