It has been the biggest lingering question about the Cavaliers pursuit of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo to take their head job: What would LeBron James think? Because right now all things Cavaliers revolve around what LeBron James wants and thinks. When they order new pens for the Cavaliers offices they ask, “What color pens does LeBron like best?”
On the coaching front, LeBron likes Izzo, according to Brian Windhorst at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. And Windhorst has more sources than the CIA. Or at least more reliable ones.
James would “100 percent endorse” Izzo as the coach, Windhorst’s source reports.
Previous reports had suggested James wanted a successful former NBA coach to be his next coach. Someone with experience at the highest level. Izzo, while very respected, has never coached an NBA game. But apparently LeBron likes him.
With Lebron onboard with Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert’s decision to hire 6 time final four coach, and former NCAA championship coach Tom Izzo, who Gilbert has admired as an MSU alum, it came as a surprise, albeit a mild one, that Izzo announced this evening that he will be leaving Cleveland at the altar, and remaining in East Lansing. So with Izzo all but agreeing to a 5 yr/$3oM deal with Cleveland over the weekend, and then receiving the King’s approval, what could have happened to derail the Izzo to Cleveland train?
We have our theories.
There’s the Billy Donovan theory. Donovan, a 2 time national champion at Florida had an opportunity to go to the Orlando Magic, where super star center Dwight Howard was already locked in. Donovan did not sign on the dotted line while in Orlando despite agreeing to the deal. The next day Donovan apologized to the world, but announced he was staying in Gainesville.
Could Izzo have gotten homesick for East Lansing before ever officially leaving? It’s very possible. But more likely that Lebron James’ recent endorsement of the move seriously clouded matters for Izzo, as opposed to making them more simple. Izzo’s agent could have perceived that the coach was worth a hell of a lot more than $6M annually, given the likelihood that Izzo to Cleveland would greatly enhance Cleveland’s ability to bring their super star back. To me, a coach able to attract and keep stars is in Phil Jackson’s salary stratosphere, closer to $9-10M per.
Izzo probably had the MSU boosters in his ear telling him that Lebron was still no lock to be in Cleveland next year, and that even if he did re-sign, it might only be for 3 years. And still other confidantes convinced that James will be in Chicago or New York next season, no matter how much he likes Tom Izzo.
Where does Cleveland turn to now? Not sure they will, but Mark Jackson will make an excellent coach in the league, and he relates well to the modern player. Byron Scott seems to be the popular notion, however.
Be a Knick,