Grant confirms that Cavs have been in contact with Izzo
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert refused to comment Tuesday on reports he has offered a job to Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and said superstar free agent LeBron James will not be consulted during the team’s search for a new coach.
Speaking at a news conference, Gilbert strongly refuted theories that James has had input on previous hires, the firing of coach Mike Brown and general manager Danny Ferry’s recent departure.
“The concept that LeBron James has been involved in any way, shape or form with firing our head coach, involved in the transition to general manager Chris Grant and will be involved in future coaching decisions and hires is totally, 100 percent and patently false,” Gilbert said. “The truth is the truth.”
“LeBron James is a significant, important, MVP player. We believe his interests and philosophy are aligned with ours. We try to make sure our decisions – they are our decisions not his decisions – will philosophically align with winning. And the other players, too.”
New GM Grant, a South Tahoe High alum, confirmed the club has had contact with Izzo and “a number” of other coaching candidates but would not provide any details.
Grant said the team has no timetable to hire a new coach.
“We have a very good team, and we want to push that team to the next level,” said Grant, who was promoted after Ferry resigned last week. “I want to find the right guy, and I want to find the right fit. That could be in a week and that could be in a month and a half.
“We’re going to make the decisions based on who that right person is and the best fit for our team.”
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Gilbert, a Michigan State graduate, and Izzo discussed terms of a possible contract that would pay the coach up to $6 million a year for four or five seasons. Use of one of Gilbert’s jets has not been discussed.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were to be confidential.
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer first reported Monday that Gilbert and Izzo talked about the framework of a deal, worth about $6 million a season for up to five years.
Izzo makes more than $3 million a season and is under contract through 2016.
According to the latest version of Izzo’s deal – which was last signed by him on Sept. 4, 2009 – he has to pay the school $500,000 within 30 days of terminating his employment if he takes a job in pro or college basketball.
A message was left Tuesday by the AP for Izzo, who didn’t confirm or deny the Cavs-related reports in a radio interview Monday night.
“I’ve taken the no-comment-on-all-of-it policy, which is a little bit unlike Tom Izzo,” he said on WILS radio in Lansing, Mich. “But I’ve been very consistent with that. And maybe to close it up, I would just say there are so many things out there that are so far-fetched right now.
“I’m the Michigan State coach and that’s what I’m going to do right now. Who knows what the future brings? But it sure isn’t at all like it’s maybe being speculated.”
Izzo led the Spartans to the Final Four this year for the sixth time in 12 seasons. The late John Wooden at UCLA and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski are the only other coaches who have accomplished that feat.
The Cavaliers fired Brown following their second-round loss to the Boston Celtics. Brown, who named the NBA’s coach of the year in 2009, led the Cavs to 127 regular-season wins the past two seasons but couldn’t get James and the team back to the finals.
– AP sportswriter Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this report.