Izzo, Cavs have discussed deal
Tom Izzo will owe Michigan State $500,000 if he leaves to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cutting a check shouldn't be a problem.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and Izzo discussed terms of a possible contract that would pay the coach up to $6 million a year for four or five seasons. Use of one of Gilbert's jets has not been discussed.
Gilbert will not discuss reports he has offered a job to Michigan State's Tom Izzo and says superstar free agent LeBron James will not be consulted during the team's search for a new coach.
Gilbert strongly refuted theories that James has had input on previous hires, the firing of coach Mike Brown and general manager Danny Ferry's recent departure.
New GM Chris Grant confirms the club has talked with Izzo but would not provide any details.
Grant says the team has no timetable to hire a new coach. He says the Cavs "just want to find the right guy."
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer first reported Monday that Gilbert and Izzo talked about the framework of a deal, worth about $6 million a season for up to five years.
Izzo makes more than $3 million a season and is under contract through 2016. Kentucky gave John Calipari an eight-year contract topping $31 million last year, the largest known deal for a college basketball coach.
According to the latest version of Izzo's deal — which was last signed by him on Sept. 4, 2009 — he has to pay the school $500,000 within 30 days of terminating his employment if he takes a job in pro or college basketball.
Since the Atlanta Hawks offered Izzo a lucrative offer to leave Michigan State after he won the 2000 national championship, his name has been mentioned regularly for openings in the NBA and NCAA.
He has turned deals down in the past, or has chosen not to pursue possible opportunities, but the Cavs might give him an offer too good to refuse.
Especially, if Izzo knows — or has a good indication — that LeBron James will re-sign in Cleveland.
A message was left Tuesday by the AP for Izzo, who didn't confirm or deny the Cavs-related reports in a radio interview Monday night.
"I've taken the no-comment-on-all-of-it policy, which is a little bit unlike Tom Izzo,'' he said on WILS radio in Lansing, Mich. "But I've been very consistent with that. And maybe to close it up, I would just say there are so many things out there that are so far-fetched right now.
"I'm the Michigan State coach and that's what I'm going to do right now. Who knows what the future brings? But it sure isn't at all like it's maybe being speculated.''
Gilbert reiterated in an e-mail Monday to the AP the team's policy is to not comment on "any rumor about potential new hires, trades, free agent signing, etc.'' Complicating his coaching search is the uncertainty surrounding James, the jewel of the marketplace when free agency opens July 1. James said in an interview last week Cleveland has "an edge'' in re-signing him.
Izzo led the Spartans to the Final Four this year for the sixth time in 12 seasons. The late John Wooden at UCLA and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski are the only other coaches who have accomplished that feat.
If the Cavs want Izzo, they could offer him a chance to make twice as much as he does in East Lansing, where he has roots dating to 1983 when he was hired as an assistant coach. Izzo is from Iron Mountain, Mich., and has been Michigan State's coach since the 1995-96 season. He was promoted following Jud Heathcote's retirement.