Last week, perhaps within hours of agreeing to part ways with general manager Danny Ferry, the Cavaliers owner swung a plan into action to attempt to lure highly successful Michigan State coach Tom Izzo to Cleveland.
According to multiple sources, Gilbert met with Izzo and laid out the framework of a massive contract aimed to convince the Spartan legend to say yes to jumping to the NBA after saying no many times before.
Sources said Gilbert, a Michigan State graduate who has known Izzo for years, informally offered a five-year contract potentially worth more than $30 million. The pitch also includes bonuses and perks including free use of one of Gilbert's private jets.
Izzo is believed to be mulling the offer and over the weekend contacted several people he's close with to seek input. Several people close to Izzo told The Plain Dealer they didn't think Izzo would take the job, but had not yet turned Gilbert down.
I like the idea of going after Izzo. He's a highly successful college coach who has won a NCAA championship and has gone to a half dozen Final Fours and he'd bring a certain amount of respect in the locker room. At the very least, Tom Izzo is a Big Name and it's refreshing that the Cavs are making news and it doesn't (directly) involve LeBron James or the LeBacle that ended the season.
However, Izzo is a highly successful college coach known for his disciplinarian, his-way-or-the-highway tactics. That stuff works in college but rarely flies in the pros.
I can go either way on this. I like the idea of hiring a coach who's had major success in his past, so he won't be beholden to LeBron. I have a hard time getting past the whole Izzo's "never been an NBA head coach before" history. College coaches rarely make it in the NBA.
But I also like the idea of Izzo being in charge and making LeBron do things he's not always comfortable doing. I mean, I'm pretty sure a Tom Izzo led team won't stand for LeBron's patetented 'dribble for 20 seconds and chuck a three' possessions. There's gonna be a change from Mike Brown, that's for sure and LeBron could use a coach who will tell him 'no'.
Brian Windhorst was on ESPN 850 and said (as hard as this is for me to believe) that LeBron has not signed off on Izzo and hasn't even been asked about it(?!). I can't believe that's true but who knows. I can't imagine the Cavs would hire a coach without LeBron's input.
It's a hard decision for Izzo to make. Gilbert is throwing a ton of money at him (even offering use of a private jet) but I can't imagine any coach (let alone Izzo) signing on with the Cavaliers without knowing what LeBron plans to do. The Cavs with James are an excellent coaching job but without... Without LeBron they're in no man's land. Good enough to make the playoffs but not good enough to make any noise once they're there. Mediocrity in spades.
I will say this, I like Izzo more than I like the idea of Jeff Van Gundy, Avery Johnson or numerous other coaching retreads. The only NBA coaching vet that is even mildly interesting is Byron Scott. He's been to the Finals and he's coached superstars in the past.
Though I couldn't tell you if he's a better hire than Izzo.