Tom Izzo texts AP ’still gathering’ info on opportunity with Cavs

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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Michigan State fans planted “WE LOVE IZZO” signs — with the love represented by a red heart — alongside roads Tom Izzo would take on his way to work.

On Monday morning, the Tom Izzo Spartan Basketball Camp opens in East Lansing, Mich.

It’s not clear if the camp’s namesake will be there.

Izzo’s stay-or-go decision likely hinges on what he thinks — or is told — LeBron James is going to do next month.

It’s not known if he has contacted James, who might not know where he’ll sign next month and may choose not to provide a Izzo with a hint.

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has said James wouldn’t be consulted during his coaching search, but attempting to get in touch with the two-time MVP probably is part of Izzo’s plan.

A week after reports surfaced about the Cavs’ interest in one of college basketball’s best coaches, Izzo indicated he’s still undecided.

“Still gathering,” Izzo wrote Sunday in a text message to The Associated Press.

Izzo spent several hours in Cleveland with team officials on Thursday, and he told reporters that night at the Lansing, Mich., airport that the situation wouldn’t go on forever.

Cleveland may intensify talks with Byron Scott if Izzo tells Gilbert that he’s declining the offer. The Spartans may hire one of Izzo’s former assistants, such as Dayton’s Brian Gregory, should Izzo find himself with a new employer for the first time since 1983.

The Cavaliers are not commenting on their coaching search.

Gilbert, a Michigan State graduate, is seeking a replacement for fired coach Mike Brown, and the team will also attempt to re-sign James when free agency begins July 1.

Cavs general manager Chris Grant talked to Scott, a former New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets coach, on the phone Thursday.

Scott fits the profile of the type of coach Gilbert wants, but the three-time NBA champion guard for the Lakers could be waiting for Phil Jackson’s decision to stick with that franchise or step away. Scott’s agent, Brian McInerney, has deferred all inquiries to the Cavs.

If Izzo leaves, he would be making a jump perhaps only one highly successful college coach — Lou Carnesecca — has made with similar roots at a program.

Carnesecca was an assistant to Joe Lapchick at St. John’s from 1956-65 and took over as head coach from 1966-70 before leaving to coach the ABA’s New York Nets for three seasons. Carnesecca returned to St. John’s in 1974 and remained there until 1992.

Michigan State wouldn’t be able to truly replace Izzo if he goes, but it might have to try to do just that if he can’t turn down an opportunity to perhaps make US$6 million — doubling his salary — while coaching a team that might include one of the world’s best basketball players.

Gregory, Tulsa’s Doug Wojcik, Utah’s Jim Boylen — all assistants under Izzo — likely would be on the list of candidates, along with Michigan State associate head coach Mark Montgomery and Dwayne Stephens. Both played for the Spartans when Izzo was a relatively unknown assistant for Jud Heathcote.

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AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland, AP Basketball Writer Jim O’Connell in New York and Associated Press Writer Tim Martin in Lansing, Mich., contributed to this report.

Organizations: Cleveland Cavaliers, The Associated Press, New Jersey Nets New Orleans Hornets Lakers ABA New York and Associated Press

Geographic location: Michigan State, East Lansing, Mich., Cleveland Dayton New York Nets Tulsa Utah

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