Report: Izzo decision up in air

Updated: June 13, 2010, 9:50 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Tom Izzo's decision on whether to stay at Michigan State or leave to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers could come by Monday, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported Friday afternoon.

Izzo
Izzo

The newspaper originally reported sources were saying Izzo would have an answer Saturday. The timetable is now up in the air.

Izzo indicated Sunday he's still undecided.

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

On Monday morning, the Tom Izzo Spartan Basketball Camp opens in East Lansing. It's not clear if the camp's namesake will be there.

On Friday afternoon, Izzo told his Michigan State players he was undecided, according to a person at the meeting. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the meeting was to be confidential.

Although Izzo gave no indication of his decision, his players came away with the impression that he would take the Cavs job, The Plain Dealer reported.

Izzo flew to Cleveland on Thursday and visited with the Cavs for several hours. Among the questions facing Izzo is whether he'd be able to coach LeBron James, who can't sign until July. Izzo, however, can't wait that long to decide.

"It won't go on forever, I can tell you that," Izzo said Thursday night at the Lansing, Mich., airport before getting in a car and heading home with his wife, daughter and son. "I feel bad that I can't talk. I feel good that I did what I had to do."

Messages were left Friday with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Chris Grant, both of whom have declined to elaborate about their pursuit of Izzo.

A source told ESPN.com on Friday that Izzo is wrestling with what he feels is a life-career change. The coach might take the weekend to deliberate as he counsels with close friends and family.

Izzo's visit to Cleveland was much like a recruiting visit for his family as they got an idea of what life in the NBA could be like -- regardless of who is on the Cavs' roster. This decision isn't about James, but rather about whether Izzo wants to finally make the jump to the pros after building Michigan State into one of the nation's most successful Division I basketball programs.

If Izzo spurns Cleveland, the team could turn to former New Orleans and New Jersey coach Byron Scott, whose résumé would make him attractive to Cleveland. Scott won three NBA titles as a player and has coached such stars as Jason Kidd and Chris Paul.

A message was left Friday with Scott's agent, Brian McInerney.

Michigan State has been bracing for Izzo's possible exit for a decade, dating to an offer from the Atlanta Hawks after he led the school to its second national championship. Each offseason his name emerges as a candidate for openings in the NBA and NCAA. This time, though, it looks as if he might take the leap.

Izzo could make about $6 million a year -- doubling his pay -- and take on the challenge of making the transition to coaching in the league. A vast majority of college coaches hired by NBA teams have failed. If Izzo thinks James will re-sign, he may not get a better opportunity.

The Cavs fired Mike Brown last month after they lost in the second round of the playoffs to Boston despite having the league's best regular-season record for the second straight year.

AOL Fanhouse.com reported that Scott had an hourlong interview with general manager Grant and assistant GM Lance Blanks. Grant said the Cavs have spoken to a "number" of candidates, but did not divulge any names.

The team has also inquired about Milwaukee assistant Kelvin Sampson. Grant, who recently took over when Danny Ferry resigned, confirmed this week the team has had contact. He would not comment on whether an offer has been made to the 55-year-old Izzo.

Gilbert is a Michigan State graduate and has known, liked and respected Izzo for years.

While the Cavs work on Plan B -- talking to coaches other than Izzo -- Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said earlier in the week he has a long list of candidates he would consider if the Spartans need a new coach.

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

Izzo met with the Spartans on Tuesday, informing them he was in discussions with the Cavs. About 500 people, including center Derrick Nix, tried to sway his decision on Thursday night.

"Coach is the best thing that ever happened to me," said Nix, a freshman last season.

A rally at the Magic Johnson statue outside Michigan State's arena was created by fans on message boards and social networking websites. Hundreds wrote personal messages on a huge banner that was taped up to the windows of Izzo's office. An "Oh no, please don't go Izzo," banner was taped at the base of Johnson's statue.

Izzo has been at the school since 1983 and has been the Spartans' coach since 1995, leading them to six Final Fours in the past 12 years. The late John Wooden at UCLA and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski are the only other coaches who have accomplished that feat.

"I'm happy for him either way," said Los Angeles Lakers guard Shannon Brown, who played for Izzo. "He deserves everything he gets. He works hard. He knows his stuff. He rarely sleeps. He's always thinking about different ways to get better and different ways to stay on top of his game."

Sunday, Michigan State fans planted "WE LOVE IZZO" signs -- with the love represented by a red heart -- alongside roads Izzo would take on his way to work.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz was used in this report.

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