Ann Arbor is not a common target for Woj Bombs, but one fell on the Wolverines all the same on Monday morning.
"ESPN Sources: A possible NBA coaching candidate whose name is gaining traction within front offices: Michigan coach Juwan Howard," Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted. "Howard has an obviously strong resume as a player and later an assistant under Erik Spoelstra. He interviewed for Lakers, Cavs before taking UM job."
Now, a careful reading of the tweet obscures where the scoop originated from. It doesn't mention any specific team that may be interested in Howard; presently, only two teams are between head coaches, though it's common for NBA teams to fire head coaches even after playoff appearances.
Is it possible the Bulls and the Pelicans--the two teams with vacancies--are both interested in Howard? Sure. Of course it's possible.
Could other teams pondering coaching changes (the Sixers?) have Howard on their radar? Absolutely.
Could this be a plant from Howard's camp to drum up interest from the Association? We can't rule it out.
Regardless, the source of the rumor isn't the point. When you're the head coach of a college basketball program and the great and powerful Woj tweets about the NBA's interest in you, you can't just let it roll by and pretend it never happened.
So Howard didn't. He addressed it, directly and emphatically.
"There was a report of my name as a potential candidate for NBA coaching opportunities," Howard said. "While I am flattered, and know it will more than likely happen again, I am not exploring, seeking or listening. I am the head coach at the University of Michigan!"
Plenty of coaches, regardless of the sport, attempt to dance around rumors, most commonly by claiming ignorance ("There's always reports out there") or speaking exclusively in the present tense while ignoring the future ("I'm the head coach here. I've always been committed to our players.")
Howard also used that phrase, and he didn't promise to remain Michigan's head basketball coach until the end of time, but he stated directly, "I am not exploring, seeking or listening."
Howard could have gone a step farther and said he'll be at Michigan for the 2021 season, but then he'd get an angry call from his agent asking why he just hindered any leverage for a possible extension.