Tom Izzo debates a reporter at a press conference

Tom Izzo and reporter Lynn Henning get into a spirited discussion about the media’s response to Izzo’s flirtation with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Both guys bring up good points, but I especially like Henning’s point about how the silence from MSU and from Izzo’s camp is not going to stop the speculation about Izzo’s future. If Izzo is upset about the misinformation that’s floating around out there, then he needs to set the record straight. If he’s hoping that people are going to stop talking about the situation while he ponders his decision in absolute silence, he’s going to be waiting a long time.

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Izzo is staying put…does this mean LeBron is leaving?


Izzo rejected the NBA in part because he was unable to speak with James, although he did speak with people in his camp.

“That was one of the key factors, 100 percent true,” Izzo said. “That was not the only factor. Was it a big factor? Sure.”

James’ uncertain future will make for a difficult decision for any prospective Cavs coach. He is unlikely to tip his hand publicly before free agency begins July 1.

I’m glad to see that Izzo is staying at Michigan State. Too many great college coaches go to the NBA and ultimately fail. It’s a different game, a different schedule, and a different level of ego. Most NBA players were the best players on their teams through high school and college; they think they know everything about the basketball and it’s tough to get through to them. That’s why you see so many coaches during those “Wired Up” sequences trying to motivate and cheerlead, while the players are staring off into the stands or up at the scoreboard.

With regard to LeBron, we can read the tea leaves a little bit. LeBron wouldn’t speak with Izzo directly, but Izzo did sepak with “people in his camp.” Remember what I said about ego? LeBron won’t even take the time to talk to a prospective head coach for his “hometown” team. If he were leaning towards staying, I think he and Izzo would have spoken so that he could create the best situation for himself in Cleveland.

Unless, of course, he’s not an Izzo fan, which seems somewhat unlikely.

This sequence of events tells me that the chances of him leaving are greater than the chances that he’ll stay put. Either way, the next two weeks are going to be excruciating. This could last another month if LeBron holds the league hostage by dragging his feet making a decision in July.

At least we have a Game 7 to look forward to on Thursday night.

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What is Tom Izzo thinking?

Tom Izzo is still considering the Cavs job, per ESPN

Izzo told reporters late Thursday night that “it won’t go on forever, I can tell you that.”

The coach had just arrived back in East Lansing, Mich., after traveling to Cleveland on Thursday afternoon with his wife, daughter and son.

Izzo said: “I feel bad that I can’t talk. I feel good that I did what I had to do.”

Izzo is apparently closer to saying yes to the Cavaliers than previously thought, a source told’s Andy Katz on Thursday.

That source discussed Izzo’s future with a close confidant of Izzo’s who is coaching in the NBA. The source told Katz that Izzo, who talked to his team earlier this week about his interest in the Cavaliers, is leaning toward taking the job if it is offered.

Byron Scott appears to be Izzo’s main competition (or the Cavs’ backup plan?)…

Wednesday night, an NBA Eastern Conference executive with knowledge of the Cavaliers’ thinking told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard that Byron Scott is a strong candidate to be offered the job.

The executive told Broussard that Scott is on equal footing with Izzo.

Scott, a former Los Angeles Lakers guard who has coached the New Jersey Nets and the New Orleans Hornets, has spoken with members of the Cavaliers’ front office the past few days. Late Wednesday night the talks took on a more serious nature, the source told Broussard.

Izzo is 55 years old and is making $3 million a year coaching 30-35 games at Michigan State. He is basically untouchable in East Lansing, but if he goes to the NBA, he becomes just another head coach. Like Dick Vitale said earlier in the week, he’s eventually going to get fired. Seemingly everyone gets fired in the NBA, no matter how good you are. Hell, Mike Brown just got fired in Cleveland after the Cavs had the most wins during the NBA’s regular season.

I understand that Izzo’s ego (or any top college coach’s ego, for that matter) might convince him that this is a challenge that he should undertake, to succeed where so many others have failed, but in the NBA, head coaches just don’t have as big of an impact on the game as they do in college.

The players are far more stubborn and are often paid more, and it’s difficult to steer the ship when there are that many egos on board. Izzo’s fiery nature works well with unpaid college kids who are only in school for 3-4 years, but when you’re talking about $17 million-a-year prima donnas, that in-your-face bit isn’t going to fly.

I presume Izzo knows this, and will attempt to adjust his style, but that aggressive approach is what makes his style so effective. The best NBA coaches — Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich — are successful because of their ability to manage their roster, specifically their stars. Izzo knows the X’s and O’s, but can he talk to LeBron in the same way that Jackson talks to Kobe or that Pop talks to Tim Duncan?

Speaking of LeBron, if Izzo signs on, it’s a clear indication — to me, at least — that he has assurances from the Cavs’ camp (presumably with confirmation from LeBron’s camp) that LeBron will re-sign if Izzo is named the coach. Otherwise, why would he agree to take over a roster that might be mediocre at best? Would he really leave a cush job at Michigan State to coach a team whose two best players are Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams?

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Vitale: Izzo isn’t going anywhere.

USA Today spoke with Dick Vitale, who had something to say about the rumor that Tom Izzo might leave Michigan State to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Tom Izzo will not leave the sideline for the Spartans (to take the Cleveland Cavaliers job). Why in the world, if you are an elite coach making millions, would you want three seasons in one, why would you want to go coach a hundred games and go where you could tarnish your resume. Just ask (Rick) Pitino, (John) Calipari…I don’t care if he has LeBron James, he is going to get fired in the NBA. A guy (Cavaliers coach Mike Brown) goes (61-21) and he gets fired.”

Why isn’t Izzo denouncing the rumors?

“Let’s face reality. It is a great way to get more money where you are at. It is a great way to have yourself stroked, we all want to feel love. What does he lose?”

Makes sense to me. I don’t see Izzo leaving unless there’s a guarantee that LeBron re-signs with the Cavs. Even so, it’s still a long shot.

Meanwhile, Waiting For Next Year claims to have a source that says Izzo has already told his players that he’s leaving for Cleveland, while Brian Windhorst (of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer) and Jeff Goodman (of FoxSports) both shot down the rumor.

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Cavs, Izzo have discussed deal

Per Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

According to multiple sources, Gilbert has discussed the framework of a massive contract offer to Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. Gilbert, a Michigan State graduate, has handled the recruitment personally and Izzo is said to be mulling the chance to jump to the NBA.

The offer is said to be worth approximately $6 million annually and would be for up to five years, much larger than the industry standard for a coach without previous NBA head coaching experience. The offer might also be loaded with potential bonuses and perks including free use of one of Gilbert’s private jets.

There is no doubt that Tom Izzo is a great coach, but a lot of great college coaches have gone to the NBA only to fail miserably or suffer in mediocrity. Without assurances from LeBron that he’ll re-sign with Cleveland, I don’t see Izzo making the move. That’s just a gut feeling.

So this could be “if LeBron re-signs” deals. If LeBron leaves, Gilbert knows that he’s going to have a tough time getting a big name coach anyway, so why not have the framework of a deal in place that he can sell to LeBron?

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