"Chicago made an offer to him," Ferguson said in a phone interview.
"Tom didn't run and say '(Chicago) made an offer, (so MSU) has to up
the ante.' " Several reports say the Cleveland Cavaliers have offered Izzo a five-year, $30 million deal to be their next coach.
Sources close to WFNY have informed us that Tom Izzo has told his
players at Michigan State that he plans on taking the Cavaliers job.
Our sources have heard directly from players on the MSU team that Izzo
informed them this week that he is planning on making the move up to
the NBA level under the ownership of MSU grad Dan Gilbert. We have
also heard from a separate source that Izzo is holding off on
announcing this until the end of the week, when his kids finish up
school in the Lansing area. While Izzo could always change his mind,
we are comfortable reporting that he has in fact informed his players
at Michigan State that he will be taking the Cavaliers job.
What does all this mean?
Well first, it explains the apparent nothingness going on with the Bulls coaching search. They were off trying to convince Tom Izzo to come on board. Second, it means they clearly weren't going bonkers with their contract offer since he's at the very least considering Cleveland, but turned us down.
I won't say Chicago dodged a bullet there, but given college coaches propensity for catastrophic failure, I wouldn't sign one for 5 years 30 million myself, and though I like Izzo, I'm happier with Thibodeau.
Now there could be many factors involved with his decision to (theoretically) say yes to Cleveland. It could be the money (I read that Dan Gilbert said it's more than 30 million reported), it could be the opportunity to coach LeBron (if he has assurances LeBron will stay), or it could be a comfort level with Gilbert who's a MSU alum.
Izzo has long been one of two coaches that I'd consider hiring for a job in the NBA, the other being coach K. He's a brilliant strategist, whose teams always outperform expectations in the tournament. I think he's probably a good X/Os guy to do that consistently year in and year out without typically having elite talent.
That said, the college -> NBA coach has basically never panned out. I can't remember the last successful coach to come from the college ranks. There's Larry Brown, but the NBA wasn't anywhere near as different from college when he made the transition as it is today.
So how does this effect LeBron? Well, to be honest, it's hard to imagine why Dan Gilbert would throw down 30 million on the coach if he didn't feel LeBron was coming back. You could get a credible coach for a couple million a year to coach a team that's not going to go anywhere.
At the same time, 30 million over 5 years in NBA money isn't that much, so it's not like a huge financial gamble. It'd be less than taking the chance on some guy at the MLE.
As for Izzo, it's easy to say he wouldn't leave MSU unless LeBron was giving him some assurances that he's staying, but every signal in the press is that LeBron isn't actively involved with anything Cleveland is doing. Maybe he has given them assurances, as it certainly makes Izzo's decision more logical, but on the other hand, if Izzo knows LeBron is there, and that he'll get to work with a superstud, does it take 30 million to get him to leave MSU?
I'm more likely to think that Izzo and LeBron's decisions are not related than to think they are, but I understand the case to be made either way. I certainly don't think Izzo's the kind of guy who'd lure LeBron to stay, so if the decisions are related I'm guessing LeBron made his first.