Since reports linking Tom Izzo with the Cavs first surfaced this week, speculation has been rampant whether the Michigan State coach will accept an offer from Cleveland that would reportedly pay him $6 million a year. Here's a look at where things stand now and what will happen to Izzo and to Michigan State if he leaves:
1. Did Izzo really tell his Michigan State players he will accept the Cleveland job?
A Cleveland blog said Wednesday afternoon that Izzo has already informed his team he's leaving, but numerous subsequent reports have refuted the idea that he's already made a decision.
The Lansing State Journal reported that Izzo met with Michigan State players for two hours on Tuesday night to inform them he's considering the offer from the Cavs. The consensus is that Izzo is still in fact-gathering mode about whether LeBron James will return to Cleveland and what it would be like to coach him.
2. Can Izzo buck the trend of college coaches who have failed to make a smooth transition to the NBA game?
Although the likes of Mike Montgomery, John Calipari, Rick Pitino and Lon Kruger all struggled in the pros, the notion that a college coach cannot succeed in the NBA is way overrated. As Celtics coach Doc Rivers said on Tuesday night, "If you look at it historically, they've all had bad jobs. They've all had bad talent on their team."
Izzo, on the other hand, would likely coach a perennial contender in Cleveland if the Cavs find a way to resign LeBron James. He would probably have to tone down some of the rah-rah motivational tactics that have been so effective for him at Michigan State, but his work ethic and people skills would give him a better chance to succeed than some of his peers.
3. Who would be the most likely candidates to replace Izzo if he leaves for Cleveland?
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis spoke to reporters Wednesday, but he declined to name any potential candidates or to reveal if he'd prefer to consider candidates with ties to the Izzo regime. "Is there a name?" Hollis said. "No. Is there a process in place? Absolutely. That's my job."
Two former Izzo assistants who have head coaching jobs elsewhere are Brian Gregory and Jim Boylen, the former of which has enjoyed good but not great success at Dayton and the latter of which endured a rash of transfers at Utah this spring. Since neither qualify as home run hires, it would be no surprise if Michigan State looked at big names like Jamie Dixon and Brad Stevens before members of Izzo's coaching tree.