Ex-Michigan coach Juwan Howard returns to NBA with Nets assistant job

COLUMBUS, OHIO - MARCH 3:  Head coach Juwan Howard of the Michigan Wolverines yells to his players during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Value City Arena on March 3, 2024 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Juwan Howard's Michigan tenure ended ugly. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Juwan Howard is back in the NBA after five seasons of coaching his alma mater at Michigan.

A month after being fired by the Wolverines, Howard is joining the Brooklyn Nets as an assistant coach under the recently hired Jordi Fernández, Yahoo Sports senior NBA reporter Jake Fischer confirmed. Fernández also hired veteran assistant Steve Hetzel from the Portland Trail Blazers earlier this week.

Howard worked as an assistant coach for the Miami Heat for six seasons before taking the Michigan job. His early success with the Wolverines led to interest from NBA teams for a head coaching role, including the Los Angeles Lakers. Howard turned them down, opting to remain in Ann Arbor coaching his sons, Jace and Jett.

Michigan's Howard era had its moments, but ultimately devolved into a mess. His tenure peaked in 2021 when he led the team to a 23-5 record, a No. 1 seed and the Elite Eight, with Hunter Dickinson, Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner all receiving All-Big Ten honors. That earned Howard a five-year extension.

The cracks started showing the next season, especially when Howard made headlines for all the wrong reasons. A game against Wisconsin ended with a heated argument, including Howard striking Badgers assistant Joe Krabbenhoft in the face, leading to a five-game suspension and a $40,000 fine.

An alleged confrontation followed in 2023 between Howard and Michigan strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson, who ended up leaving the program with a settlement. The Wolverines kept regressing on the court as this all was happening, with the team hitting rock bottom last season with an 8-24 record.

Michigan fired Howard and replaced him with Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May.

So Howard will join the Nets with a more colorful backstory than most assistant coaches. He still brings plenty of experience to Brooklyn, both in his decade-plus as a coach and his 19 seasons as an NBA player.