Cavs’ pitch to Izzo hinges on LeBron plan
When Michigan State coach Tom Izzo visits the Cleveland Cavaliers’ facilities and meets front-office staff in a planned trip on Thursday, he wants to hear a detailed plan on how new general manager Chris Grant hopes to retool the franchise should LeBron James(notes) depart as a free agent, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday night.
If Izzo can be sold on a rebuilding process and becomes comfortable with Grant, one of college basketball’s biggest coaching stars could be ready to take owner Dan Gilbert’s five-year, $30 million offer, sources told Yahoo!
Izzo has told confidants in the past 24 hours how “sick of recruiting” he’s become on the college level, sources say, and that’s playing an important part in why Izzo may be willing to take the Cavaliers job with or without James.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer first reported that Izzo planned to visit Cleveland on Thursday to meet with team officials.
Sources say that Izzo has been convinced that the Cavaliers have a legitimate chance to re-sign LeBron James, but ultimately his hesitancy still sits with the uncertainty surrounding the two-time league MVP.
Izzo spent significant time on Wednesday night calling friends who’ve coached in both college and the pros. Also, Izzo has been investigating several potential assistant coaches, and asking about members of Mike Brown’s staff who are still under contract.
Sources believe that assistant Mike Malone and Chris Jent would likely be a part of a potential Izzo staff with the Cavs. Izzo is also mulling several potential targets to join his staff, including ex-New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank, and ex-Michigan State and NBA guard Eric Snow(notes).
Izzo had originally been negotiating with the Cavaliers through a third party, but has started to deal more directly with Gilbert himself in recent days, sources say. Those familiar with the situation describe Izzo at a crossroads in his life, where he feels if he ever wants to try something different, the time is now. The 55-year-old has always loved Michigan State, where he’s gone to six Final Fours in 15 years, but he’s never hid his ambition to give pro basketball a chance.
Izzo considered a five-year, $15 million offer in Atlanta in 2000, but couldn’t get past the fact that he would likely lose a lot of games. He’s turned down several overtures through the years, including several chances to interview for jobs in the past two years. This time, it could be different. Michigan State and Cleveland are now waiting on his choice.