Latest News, NBA / Jun 9, 2010 / 3:29 pm

NBA rumor: Tom Izzo takes Cleveland Cavaliers job

Izzo at MSU

Apparently Kevin Garnett was right: Anything is possibuuuuuuuullllll. Three days ago, I was absolutely certain about at least two things: Donald Sterling would never give up his position as majority owner of the L.A. Clippers, and Tom Izzo would never leave Michigan State University.

But the allure of LeBron James can move mountains in the NBA. Reports surfaced yesterday of billionaire David Geffen promising he can “deliver” LeBron if he acquires 51% ownership of the Clippers, and today, it’s been reported Izzo will be the next coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

My first thought is that Izzo has to know something we don’t in regards to LeBron’s free agency plans. With the legacy he’s created at Michigan State — making six Final Fours and winning a national championship in 2000 — Izzo would only leave the school for one of three reasons: (1) Money, (2) Taking on a new challenge, (3) The opportunity to coach a legendary talent like LeBron.

Izzo already makes good money at MSU, and unless he goes Bobby Knight and starts randomly hemming kids up on campus, he’s never going to be fired. So maybe this is about taking the next step; Izzo feels he’s mastered the college game and wants to see if he can win on the NBA level. Pro teams are wary of hiring college coaches given the track record of guys like Rick Pitino, John Calipari and Mike Montgomery, but college coaches will still take NBA jobs if they’re offered. Like any competitor, they want to prove themselves on what’s perceived as the highest level of competition.

But then if Izzo were going to take an NBA job, why Cleveland? And why now? The fact that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is a Michigan State alum is a cute coincidence, but that’s not enough. If the Cavs lose LeBron this summer, everyone is predicting catastrophe, because it’s going to be tough for Joakim Noah‘s favorite city to attract other top-level free agents. So sans-LeBron, Izzo would be inheriting a middle-of-the-pack Eastern Conference playoff team at best, hardly a championship contender. And if Izzo simply wants to stay in the Midwest, why not wait until Joe Dumars inevitably fires John Kuester too early and take the Detroit job?

So I’m inclined to think Izzo knows (or thinks he knows) that LeBron is coming back to the Cavs.

If that’s true, does that mean Izzo is the right man for this job? I think so. I respect Izzo probably more than any coach in the college game, in part because he consistently contends for national championships without the benefit of introducing a slew of All-American recruits every year. While other NCAA-to-NBA busts like Pitino and Calipari could be blamed on those coaches not knowing how to cope when they weren’t getting their pick of the nation’s elite recruits, Izzo isn’t like that. He’s a coach’s coach.

And having worked with college kids for so long, he might be the right guy to balance out Cleveland’s fun-loving, college-atmosphere locker room with the seriousness and focus required to win an NBA championship.

Of course, like everything with the Cavs, it all comes back to LeBron. Gilbert recently made a slightly ridiculous statement where he went over-the-top in claiming LeBron has zero influence on the team’s front-office and personnel moves, which just doesn’t make any sense. Every NBA team wants their superstar to be on the same page with the front-office and coaches around him, whether it’s Chris Paul (who wanted Monty Williams as New Orleans’ coach) or Kobe Bryant (who got the roster he wanted after demanding a trade a couple years ago). It doesn’t make the player a dick, that’s just how the business works. So if the Cavs offered Izzo a job, I’m sure they already know LeBron would be in favor. Now is it enough for him to come back? We’ll see.

Do you think hiring Izzo is a good move for the Cavs?

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  • futuristic handgun

    Do you think hiring Izzo is a good move for the Cavs?



    it dont matter. any coach is an upgrade from coach cleveland brown. gonna bet mateen cleaves will be first in line when summer league starts. hehehehehhe

  • goonther


  • CITY

    honestly if lebron felt he was da best in the world, some dude sitting on a bench yellin instructions shud not make a difference.

  • Claw

    I was dying at the comment, why not wait for Piston’s job. East Lansing is not Detroit and that team is a mess. Ctown isn’t a huge upgrade without Lebron but at least they have flexibility if Lebron left and Shaq and Z are off the payroll, but that’s not what will happen Bron Bron is staying and it makes all the sense in the world.

    Izzo is loved by his players for being fair and up front, no BS, his coaching pedigree and basketball knowledge will give him immediate respect.

    Solid move, LBJ needs a teacher not another lackey coach.

  • coachmurdog

    Lots of people in East Lansing are shooting down this rumor… the source of the rumor is a leak from a meeting with the player’s, one of whom talked to his father about it. Reportedly, Delvon Roe talked to his Dad about the meeting. Long story short, Izzo has made no decision, but it appears that Chris Allen is probably on his way out of the program at MSU.


  • Detroit Dave

    Somewhere in Phoenix Charles Barkley is saying “Mateen Cleaves in rolling over in his grave”

  • http://aol Diana

    Wait till Izzo tries to tell Lebron…what to do! these aint college kids Tom,really thought 3 million a year for ten years and being adored was enough for you…guess I was wrong. Sorry to see you go

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    Is Izzo a good fit in Cleveland or anywhere in the NBA? Probably not. But if for some strange reason Izzo’s hiring helps keep Lebron in Cleveland than why not take a chance. He can’t be any worse than Mike Brown. At least Izzo knows how to coach.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    By the way I read somewhere (I think Hoopshype) a good thought on the whole Lebron free agency thing. Somebody suggested that Lebron would sign a short term 3-year contract with a no trade clause with Cleveland. If he didn’t win a championship by the end of the third year he would bolt in free angency to the Nets who by then would most likely be in Brooklyn and would have had some time to build a contender. That way he could say he gave his hometown team a full decade to win a chip and leave Cleveland with a clear conscience.

  • datdood

    izzo doesn’t care who he is coaching. if the cavs are going to pay him 6 mil a year, he is going to take that even if it is a shitty team.

  • Scott

    If LeBron wanted a clear conscience, he could’ve, you know, not quit on his team in the playoffs… just sayin.

  • jimmyjack

    @Scott — That’s just plain stupid. If anything LeBron was pressing in that last game, hence the high turnover rate. Guy averages 26-9-7 in the series and you say he quit? So what did Shaq, Jamison and Mo Williams do, not even get out of bed?

  • frmkt

    dammn… it was obvious that LBJ was hurt. the guy doesn’t quit – i just don’t accept that theory. i also don’t think it was a good idea to bring in a college coach when they obviously are very close to being a championship team. but i and others here do not know the what’s going on behind the scene but it makes sense that izzo and mngmt must be privy to the fact that LBJ is comin’ back. why would the “izz” leave to coach an NBA team w/o “the king?”

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Powerslave

    LeBron on new coach: “Just to clarify, in a zone defense the SF doesn’t have to move, right?”

  • http://clubpenguincp.com/ Club Penguin Cheats

    Nice post. Have u heard about the iPad hack? Kinda random but lol why not.