EAST LANSING, Mich. — Tom Izzo wouldn’t even tell one of his young campers if he wants to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers or stay at Michigan State.
Izzo was at his basketball camp Monday when a boy tried to get the scoop, inquiring about the coach’s interest in jumping to the NBA.
“Bad question,” Izzo said. “Those guys up there want to know that.”
A pack of reporters, six TV cameras and two photographers were given limited access to the camp as Izzo addressed hundreds of boys and many of their parents at the Breslin Center, where his championship and Final Four banners are in the rafters.
Izzo did not look at or talk with reporters when he arrived at his office Monday morning, about 20 hours after indicating in a text message to The Associated Press he was still undecided. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, and general manager Chris Grant declined comment Monday.
As he ponders the biggest decision of his career, Izzo clearly would like to know whether he would have LeBron James to coach next season.
But a person familiar with the situation told The AP that James has not spoken to Izzo about Cleveland’s coaching vacancy, and the two-time NBA MVP has no plans to get involved in the Cavaliers’ search.
James has stayed clear of the Cavs’ pursuit of Izzo and will remain on the outside, said the person who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team and the school are not commenting on Izzo’s status.
Izzo declined comment on Monday.
James recently said in an interview that he will not lobby for any coach.
Izzo is weighing a jump to the NBA and would like some clarity on James’ plans. But the 25-year-old superstar is unlikely to comment on his future before free agency begins on July 1.
Izzo could perhaps make US$6 million — doubling his salary — by going to the Cavaliers. He spent several hours in Cleveland with team officials Thursday, and said at the Lansing, Mich., airport the situation wouldn’t “go on forever.”
Michigan State fans are doing their best to keep Izzo at the school where he has been since 1983. Many “WE (heart) IZZO” signs were planted along roads the coach takes on his way to campus, and three of them were just outside his office.
Izzo tried to conduct business as usual at his camp, joking and giving the boys a sense of what the week would be like. “Our motto is: Learn to listen and listen to learn.” He used a few of his current players and a couple former ones to run the team’s motion offence.
“The NBA does a great job of spacing,” said Izzo, who made more than one reference to the league.
After Izzo sent the campers off to other gyms, he spoke to his wife, Lupe, for a few minutes. She later left in her car after waving to reporters.
While the Cavs wait for Izzo, they’re working on what seems to be Plan B.
Grant spoke by phone last week to Byron Scott, a former New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets coach. Scott fits the profile of the kind of coach Gilbert wants. But the three-time NBA champion guard for the Lakers could be waiting to see if Phil Jackson leaves Los Angeles. Scott’s agent, Brian McInerney, has deferred all inquiries to the Cavs.
If Izzo leaves Michigan State, the list of possible successors likely would include Dayton’s Brian Gregory, Tulsa’s Doug Wojcik, Utah’s Jim Boylen — all once assistants under Izzo — along with current Michigan State assistants Mark Montgomery and Dwayne Stephens. Both played for the Spartans when Izzo was a relatively unknown assistant for Jud Heathcote.