Report: Izzo wants to talk to LeBron

Updated: June 14, 2010, 12:17 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Cleveland Cavaliers' wait for Tom Izzo continues after a weekend of mostly silence from the Michigan State coach.

But there was a pertinent development Sunday night in the Izzo saga, when the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported on its website that LeBron James would not oppose Izzo's hiring after it was previously reported that James prefers to play for a coach who has played in the NBA.

The Plain Dealer, quoting what it termed a "high-level source," said James would "100 percent" endorse Izzo's hiring.

It won't go on forever, I can tell you that.

-- Michigan St. coach Tom Izzo on Thursday regarding job decision

It remains to be seen what impact that sentiment will have on Izzo's decision, given that Izzo's hesitation in accepting Cleveland's five-year, $30 million offer is believed to stem mostly from the fact that James becomes a free agent July 1 and has given the franchise no known indication that he intends to re-sign.

Izzo was at his basketball camp in East Lansing, Mich., on Monday, and when asked by a camper about his status, Izzo replied that the camper had asked a "bad question." Izzo then said "those guys up there want to know that," referring to a group of reporters, TV cameramen and photographers given limited access to the camp.

Izzo did not look at or talk with reporters when he arrived at his office early Monday morning. Cavs general manager Chris Grant declined comment Monday.

Although the Cavaliers hoped that Izzo would have made a decision over the weekend, Izzo only issued a brief text message Sunday to several reporters, including ESPN.com's Andy Katz: "Still gathering."

Katz reported Sunday that Kentucky coach John Calipari, who is friendly with James, is one of the coaching colleagues Izzo has consulted, not only for advice about moving into the pro game but also in an attempt to get a read on James' thinking.

Izzo is apparently still trying to speak directly to James, according to Lansing (Mich.) television station WLNS, but that had not happened as of early Monday.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert insisted last week that James is not directly involved in the search for a replacement for Mike Brown. James also told CNN's Larry King in a recent sitdown interview that he does not want to be deeply involved in selecting his next coach, but any evidence that James would be supportive could help Gilbert in his determined chase for Izzo's signature.

On Friday afternoon, Izzo told his Michigan State players he was undecided about whether to accept the lucrative offer from Michigan State alumnus Gilbert, according to a person at the meeting. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the meeting was intended 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. Chief among the issues he's mulling over is whether he'd still want the job in the event that the Cavs fail to re-sign James in free agency.

A source told ESPN.com on Friday that Izzo is also wrestling with what he feels is a life and career change.

"It won't go on forever, I can tell you that," Izzo said Thursday night at the Lansing 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."

Gilbert and Grant have repeatedly declined media requests to elaborate about their pursuit of Izzo.

If Izzo spurns the Cavs, they could turn to former New Orleans and New Jersey coach Byron Scott, who not only won three NBA rings as a player with the Los Angeles Lakers but also has experience coaching stars Jason Kidd and Chris Paul.

The Cavs have maintained contact with Scott's camp for the past few weeks after losing in the second round of the playoffs to Boston despite having the league's best regular-season record for the second straight season. The Cavs, though, have not interviewed Scott face-to-face.

Coach is the best thing that ever happened to me.

-- Michigan States sophomore Derrick Nix on Tom Izzo's impact

Since firing Brown, Cleveland has also been linked in media reports with recently dismissed Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson, Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Kelvin Sampson and Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw. Grant said the Cavs have spoken to a "number" of candidates, but did not divulge any names.

As for Michigan State, Spartans athletic director Mark Hollis said last week that he has a long list of candidates he would consider if he needs a new coach.

On 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, ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard and ESPN.com's Andy Katz and Marc Stein was used in this report.

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