Izzo measuring James’ possible return

As Michigan State’s Tom Izzo tries to make a decision on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ coaching job, much of his uneasiness centers on just how frayed the franchise’s relationship with LeBron James(notes) has become, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

As for his questions about where Cleveland’s organization stands with James, one source said Izzo “isn’t even sure who has a relationship with [James].”

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has tried to be positive with Izzo about the team’s chances of re-signing James this summer, but little in Izzo’s own research has given him much tangible comfort about that likelihood. Sources say Izzo has listened to the front office’s plans should they keep James – or lose him – but he needs to feel confident about how the franchise will handle both scenarios.

The Cavs haven’t forced a timetable on Izzo to make a decision on their five-year, $30 million offer, but it’s expected he won’t take too long to make his choice over the weekend.

The transition from the Cavs’ former general manager Danny Ferry to Ferry’s successor Chris Grant has come at a difficult time to undertake Izzo’s recruitment. For Izzo to leave Michigan State, he needs to see stability in the front office, and that’s harder with the removal one of the NBA’s most respected executives.

Nevertheless, Izzo believes in Gilbert and could see himself working for him, sources said. Gilbert recruited Izzo directly.

An NBA executive who has talked to Izzo says one frustration that could be pushing Izzo toward the NBA is that Michigan State hasn’t been able to elevate its recruiting into the national elite of the North Carolinas and Dukes, despite reaching six Final Fours and winning a national title under him. Izzo had hoped the Spartans’ success would feed off itself and he’d have an easier time attracting more top players than he does.

“I think it’s frustrating to Tom that despite all he’s done there, he still has to really grind to get kids,” the NBA source said.

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Updated Sunday, Jun 13, 2010